Does the word pruning leave you confused? Do you think there is some difficult rules and regulations you have to follow? While there are some tips for design aesthetics for something like roses, basic general yearly pruning done in early spring or late winter isn’t difficult at all!
Typically, this type of pruning should be done in late winter or very early spring. But sometimes, you just don’t get around to it until later! So later it is. Rules are just suggestions, right?
The first basic type of pruning is just cleaning up around the base of your trees. This mature oak tree has raised roots up next to the trunk so the lawn mower can’t cut right up next to it and so all kinds of pesky little seedlings find a home here. There are a couple of cedars, a half dozen oaks, and other various vines and weeds growing here. These all need to be clipped off at ground level.
Fruit trees and other specialty trees are often grafted onto a different kind of tree root. These roots will often send up “suckers” which will take nutrients from your tree and should be removed regularly. Cut them off at the very base of their growth, which could possibly even be underground. This is an ornamental cherry tree and all fruit trees are notorious for sprouting suckers.
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Removing dead branches from trees might be obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded! You can remove dead branches any time, but since you are already pruning, NOW is the perfect time.
A walk around your property will most likely reveal volunteers planted by the wind or birds. Sometimes, I dig them up and transplant them to a more pleasing area of my garden. If these volunteers are not something you want to keep, cut them off at ground level, or slightly below the soil. This nice big green weed tree is growing right in my Oak Leaf Hydrangea.
Wild Hair Branches:
Sometimes a shrub will just get a wild hair that needs to be taken under control! This small mounding crepe myrtle just grew this strange appendage that needs to be taken off.
Grasses provide great interest and structure to the garden during winter months, but just before spring hits, they need a heavy pruning, cutting them back to 8 inches or so.
I recently read that Knock Out Roses need a good hard pruning just before they start to bud out and so I got hold of mine and now they look SO much better! I had never done it before but they really responded to the
buzz cut trim. The first picture is the pruned pile that is going to the fire pit and the second one is the roses a couple of weeks after the pruning.
When I was growing up we always had blackberries growing on all the ditch banks, we NEVER had to plant them. I decided that I wanted some so I planted several last year. They are not very big yet, but they had Loooooooong unruly stems so I wondered if they’d appreciate a trim also. Research said yes, so I cut those lanky stems back to about 3-4 feet. This should be done annually to promote heavier fruiting.
That was pretty much a full day of pruning for me! But I was so pleased with how clean and fresh everything looked when I finished and now that spring has arrived everything has started beautiful growth spurts.
And as you can see, pruning is NOT some mysterious secret! Just do it. The plants will survive and you learn best by doing. You might also like to read How to prune overgrown shrubs.
My daughter and her family just moved into a new house and she did not like the looks of the front flowerbed at all. She likes order and neatness and this bed was messy and she couldn’t see out of her dining room windows. It bothered her so much, she wanted us to dig out that tall crepe myrtle.
When I saw how big the crepe myrtle was, I told her that digging it out might be a bigger job that she and I could do, but that I’d get in there check it out. So first thing to be done was pruning out the dead branches, which really cleaned it up a lot. Then I took out a few trunks that were criss-crossed and cut back some wiley crazy growing pieces. At this point I could see the trunks and I told her that I figured we could probably get it out if she wanted. However, she was so impressed with the new look that she began to rethink her original idea.
Next was to cut off any lower branches that were blocking the view from the dining room windows. Once that was done, she went inside to check the view from the dining table and loved how her view was unobstructed by the trunks. And there you have the BEFORE and AFTER:
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