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The Pruning Calendar

WRITTEN BY Cindy

Whether it’s for disease, safety, or appearance, know when to prune

Pruning trees, bushes, or even large plants can be a major task.  Many of us are only motivated when the vegetation is in our way, whether it’s too close to an overhead wire (that’s really a job for a professional, though) or shading the kiddie pool, or dropping debris all over the deck.  And sometimes we prune because the tree or plant looks diseased and we want to save it.

With the right tool and timing, you can get the job done. However, if you’re pruning for looks, well, the tool and timing are the same, but your skill is something we can’t help you with. You may want to get some expert advice on shaping the tree or bush.

Choosing the Tool: Your local home-improvement store has a wealth of tool choices for trimming. The right choice depends upon the size of the plant or tree to be trimmed.

  • Pruning shears: They look a little like pliers with a cutting end. These are best for small bushes and plants.
  • Loppers: These have long handles, which require two hands, and a strong blade at the end. They’re great for small branches.
  • Saws: A hand saw is usually adequate for branches up to about 4 inches in diameter.
  • Chainsaw: With the available battery-operated chainsaws on the market, these are a viable option for small trees and larger branches.

Timing the Prune: Plants and trees are hardy, and a small prune at anytime is unlikely to do major harm. But, if you time it properly, you can enhance the plant’s growth and help it thrive. Heavy trimming in the late summer or early fall may trigger new growth, which you don’t want as we head into winter.

  • Woody bushes: For plants like flowering almonds and forsythia, trim after they have bloomed, such as late summer or early fall. Don’t wait until late in the fall or the winter because you may trim away potential spring buds.
  • Trees: Trim trees during the winter when they’re dormant. Avoid trimming young trees at all.
  • Evergreen trees: Trim in late winter/early spring while the tree is dormant. Midsummer is also acceptable, as it’s not a growing time.
  • Roses: While many experts say to prune the roses before winter, after the first “killing frost,” others say the time is early spring, when the forsythias are blooming.
  • Flowering perennial plants: Prune these back in the winter when they’re dormant.

Posted on November 24, 2020

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