With autumn here (kind of in the Ozarks), occasional dips in the temperature are encouraging us to go outside again a lot of us are noticing how out of control our yards have become. Then we start thinking about getting ready for winter or just enjoying the nice weather again. We aren’t afraid to admit that our own yard needs some….a lot of TLC. We’ve been super busy and our yard has paid the price.
So what seems to be on people’s minds as far as their yards right now? Out of control shrubs, bushes and trees.
When to Prune
As a general rule of thumb most trees and shrubs can be pruned in late winter or early spring. This is the time that most trees are dormant and will therefore be less stressed by heavy pruning. Tree or shrub type does have some affect on when the best time is to do heavy pruning. Pruning during the right season for certain trees helps insure the best production of flowers and foliage. Dead heading is always a good idea and can be done anytime.
- Late winter and early spring is the best time to trim back summer flowering shrubs.
- Late spring and early summer are the best times to prune spring flowering bushes, just after the flowers have all died out.
- Mid-summer is the best time to prune bleeding trees or those with a very heavy sap flow.
Some pruning can be done at any time of the year, if it will help the plants health. Say a big storm comes through breaks several branches off of your gorgeous crape myrtle. In this situation the season isn’t as important as removing the broken branches. The plant will most likely recovery faster if the broken branches aren’t taking nutrients, leaving a large wound for pests and disease, or affecting the overall growth of the plant.
When is it Always Ok to Prune?
It is ok to prune anytime if there are:
- Dead branches
- Damaged branches
- Weak branches
- Branches that are crossing, or touching the house
Types of Pruning
- Regular maintenance helps keep a tree or shrub from outgrowing its surroundings.
- Renewal pruning is consists of removing the oldest branches, and cutting all the branches back to the same length.
- Pinching is removing the new green growth at the tips of branches back to the woody stalk.
How to Prune
- All cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle to prevent water from collecting on the cut. Any water that the cut collects is an open invitation for mold and disease.
- Cuts should be made ¼ inch above the bud that you want to remain on the tree.
- Remember that the new shoots will grow in the direction the bud is facing.
- It is also important to keep all cuts parallel to the parent branch or main stalk of the tree.
- When dealing with diseased plants always remember to clean your tools so you prevent spreading it to other plants
If you are ever in doubt on when to trim or prune you can always ask a local landscape professional or consult your local extension office. To get the most out of your plants prune when needed, and not all at once when things get out of hand.