Suburban Hills Lawn and Garden Tips


By Glenn Conatser
(Glenn is deceased)

Pruning is one of the most important cultural practices in the landscape. Rarely will you find a tree, shrub or vine that does not need some pruning each year. Proper pruning will help produce a more attractive, vigorous and well-formed plant. In many cases flowering will increase. Pruning stimulates new growth and development of the plant. Pruned plants develop new growth where cuts are made, unless a branch is cut back to the main stem. Correct pruning may add years to the usefulness of the plant. Begin pruning when plants are young. Early pruning on shrubs will increase the branching structure near the ground and develop a more compact plant. Pruning young trees correctly will ensure a straight center leader and scaffold branching. Trees need to be pruned correctly as they grow to eliminate massive corrective pruning when they mature.

Why Prune?

There are 5 good reasons to prune.1-To maintain plant health by removing dead or diseased plant tissue. This is necessary to maintain the health and vigor of the plant. Make the pruning cuts into healthy tissue. 2- To remove branches that are misshaped, crowded, rubbing together or drooping onto other branches for support. 3- To stimulate or increase flowering or fruiting. Many flowering plants will produce more flower buds the following season if old flowers are removed when they lose their attractiveness. A common phrase for this type pruning is dead-heading. 4-To improve the appearance of the plant by training to a particular shape or size. Pruning can shape or train plants in unnatural forms such as hedges or espaliers. 5-To rejuvenate old, overgrown shrubs to restore their shape and vigor.

When to Prune

As a general rule, plants that flower before July 1 should be pruned immediately after flowering. Plants that bloom after July 1 should be pruned in late winter or early spring before growth starts. The best time to prune trees and non-blooming plants is late winter or early spring, before buds start to swell and open. The worst time to prune is when the plant is in the spring growth period and late summer, early fall, or early winter. Plants pruned in early winter will not heal until spring, inviting desiccation. Do not prune when the temperature is below 20 F.

Pruning Mature Trees

The pruning of large shade trees by the homeowner should be limited to the branches that can be reached from the ground. If large limbs need to be removed, enlist the professional services of a certified arborist with the proper skill, equipment and insurance. Pruning cuts should be made for a reason and with the knowledge of how the tree will respond to the cuts. A common practice called "topping" is an severe, unfortunate problem in Tennessee. Topping is used to reduce the height of trees around homes and utility lines. Topping is not the same pruning method as crown or height reduction. Crown reduction does not leave stubs like topping. There is never a good reason to top a tree. Topping removes the tree’s main leader and branches, resulting in stubs. After topping, the new growth is disfigured, with watersprouts and weak limbs that form a dense canopy where very little light and air can penetrate. Insects and disease organisms thrive in this environment. The initial large wounds never heal properly and the subsequent growth is very weak. New limbs that are generated will break out easier than the branches that are removed. Topping drastically shortens the life of the tree. Topped trees are an eyesore in the landscape and continue to be an eyesore as trees slowly decline.

Copyright © 2002-2018 Glenn Conatser, Suburban Hills Homeowners Association