Friday, January 16, 2009

Landscape - Some Pruning Basics

Pruning season runs from late winter to late spring depending on the plant. The following are some pruning basics to consider.
  • There are 3 basic reasons to prune: to maintain plants in healthy condition, to rejuvenate certain plants, and to improve flowering and fruiting on certain plants.
  • For maintenance pruning the goals are to remove any damaged or diseased wood, eliminate crossing branches, eliminate suckers and excess upright growth, and limb up to remove low lying branches that risk damage from landscape activities (only limb up if necessary).
  • Make clean pruning cuts with minimal damage or tearing. Reduce the amount of damage done during pruning. Prune at branch collars in larger branches and not flush. For branches less than 1/2 inch diameter cut flush.
  • Use sharp high quality bypass type hand pruners or a good pruning saw. Loppers should not be used for larger branches. Sharpen pruners often.
  • Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs right after flowering in the spring (May-June). Prune summer and fall flowering plants in the dormant season (February-March).
  • Many prolific shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting down to the ground with a chain saw. Partial renovations can be done on less vigorous shrubs where you take out 3-5 of the oldest stems to the base each year. On some shrubs, where you need to lower the height, you will remove about 1/3 of the plant.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County.

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