In our last blog post, we provided a checklist of things you can do to keep your landscape healthy and looking nice through winter. One of the items we suggested you should do is to prune your trees (shrubs can be pruned, too). Pruning revives tired plants and helps younger plants establish a good shape. We suggest pruning in winter for a few reasons. The lack of leaves makes seeing what you are doing much easier and in the winter, plants are less likely to 'bleed' as sap is not as active. Cuts will have time to heal over before spring growth begins.
The following are a few tips for how to prune your trees and shrubs so you don't cause damage.
The first thing you want to do when pruning is to remove any damaged or diseased wood. This must go first so you're not wasting time working on areas that won't get better.
Next, you'll want to address any branches that crisscross or rub on other surfaces. Start with removing the least important branches completely or shorten them so they are not intertwined. A good place to cut is down to an outward facing bud. Shortening these branches forces the plant to funnel its energy into the buds that remain, giving you more vigorous growth.
When cutting, make sure you are doing so correctly. Incorrect or 'bad' cuts can result in poor wound recovery and unhealthy plants.
Don’t prune too far away from the bud. More than a finger width is probably too far. Cutting too far away can result in the wood between the cut and the bud below dying, which can affect the health of the bud. If the bud fails to grow, die back can cause the whole stem to die.
Just as you don't want to prune too far away, you don’t want to prune too close to the bud either. If you're on top of the bud, you're too close. Pruning too close to the bud often results in damaging the bud itself and that can jeopardize the bud's ability to grow into a leaf or flower. Pruning too close to the bud can also cause the branch to die back further down the stem.
Be careful of the angle when you prune. If you leave a pointed stub of stem above the bud you risk causing the stem to die back as far as the bud and possibly beyond it. A better option is to keep the cut as straight as possible but a slight angle can be okay if you are trying to redirect the growth of a particular branch.
Make sure any cuts you make have angles that slope in a way that forces water to run off and not pool. If water pools on the cut, your plant is more susceptible to rot.
Pruning can be a challenging project if you've never done it before, or if you have a lot of trees and shrubs to contend with. If you would like help pruning plants around your property, give Graham Landscape & Design a call for a free estimate. 541-729-8029
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