disease, tree care

Tree Trimming for Dummies

MYTH: tis the season for tree trimming....

The Christmas season has everyone talking about trimming trees.  Oh.  Not that kind?  What if you have trees than need pruning, though?  Can that be done NOW?  HOW?

Since Edward Scissorhands wasn’t available (his blades were full), here are my quick tips on pruning trees and shrubs.

WHEN? There are several reasons to trim woody plants and a corresponding season to do it.  My memory sucks, so I’ve come up with ways to remember based on those seasons.

Fall’s for the fallen.  Spring’s sprung anew.

If you have dead branches, autumn is a great time to get them off the plant so it doesn’t have to carry that dead weight into winter.  Literally.  Cold weather means most insects that would harm exposed cuts are gone, too.  Take this opportunity to trim away any obviously lifeless limbs.  (If you don’t know how to tell what’s good wood and what’s not, check out my previous post on trees.)  Wait until spring before pruning trees for shape or size.  Cutting can send a signal to the tree that causes new growth, which is not a good thing going into winter since tender new shoots are susceptible to injury in freezing temps.  The addendum to this rule regards blooming trees and shrubs.  They should usually be trimmed just after they finish blooming so you don’t miss out on seeing the flowers.

HOW? The go-to guy for prunology is plant pathologist Dr. Alex Shigo.  Texas A&M’s website goes into big-time detail for you anal type, but for me, a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s his diagram for where to trim branches depending on whether they’re living or deceased.

figure 6, Shigo's method of pruning

HIT: trim your trees for the right reasons in the right seasons by watching a how-to video from The Garden Girl @ http://youtu.be/1vTkaRc-C6M
So while the ladder is still out, channel your inner Edward and whack away those dead branches.  It’s a  gift to your trees that will come full circle by giving you a healthier landscape.

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