Wow! What a year for fall color. It’s been a while since Loudoun has experienced such autumnal splendor. As the leaves fall and winter approaches, our thoughts turn to pruning as trees grow bare and dormant. Late winter is an excellent time to prune many trees and shrubs.
What Is Pruning?
Pruning refers to removing parts of plants, including branches and twigs, to shape the plant and promote growth. It’s an opportunity to remove dead and diseased branches and promote the development of new leaves, flowers and fruit. Pruning is essential for woody plants like trees and shrubs in particular.
- Pruning removes dead branches that can impede growth and prevents disease and fungi from spreading.
- It helps fruit trees direct energy to flowers and fruit in the spring and summer.
- It boosts visibility and allows you to holistically shape trees and shrubs to mesh with your landscape.
When Should I Prune Trees and Shrubs?
Late winter is an ideal time to prune most evergreen and deciduous trees. The timing for flowering shrubs and trees depends on when they bloom. In the late winter or early spring, you can trim shrubs that bud on new growth (including roses and many hydrangeas). Prune shrubs and trees that produce flowers from “old wood” or last year’s growth after they bloom in the spring. This includes forsythia, lilacs, dogwood and other favorites.
Why Is Winter A Good Time to Prune?
In the Mid-Atlantic, most plants go through a dormancy period in the winter. Pruning while the plant is dormant makes it easier to recover in time for spring growth. It helps avoid spreading disease and pests, which are more common in warm weather and are attracted to open cuts. Finally, it’s easier to appreciate the plant’s shape when the leaves are gone.
What Happens If I Prune at the Wrong Time?
Pruning at the right time keeps plants healthy and promotes growth while pruning too early or late can cause problems.
- Pruning in the fall can cause premature growth that will die when temperatures drop.
- Pruning during warm seasons can cause the spread of disease and attract pests to fresh cuts.
- Pruning spring-flowering shrubs and trees in winter can reduce the number of blooms. For these varieties, wait until after the spring blossoms fade.
What Tips Should I Keep In Mind When Pruning?
- Do your research and make a conservative plan before you prune.
- Don’t prune too early in winter since cuts can dry up if exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended time.
- Remove dead and diseased branches before moving on to healthy growth.
- Remove “suckers,” those small upstart branches that sap energy from your tree.
- Cut branches in the “node” where one twig or branch attaches to another.
- Remove small branches at the top of the tree to allow air and light to filter through.
- Consider hiring a professional landscaping team if you have concerns about your ability to prune safely and effectively.
Why Should I Consider Hiring A Professional Landscaper for Pruning?
More than everyday landscaping tasks, DIY pruning can be costly and disastrous if done incorrectly. Here are some reasons it makes sense to work with a professional landscaping team like Epling.
- Safety: Pruning can be dangerous, especially with larger trees. Understanding how to use tools properly helps avoid injury from limbs and branches.
- Financial investment: Your landscaper’s fees don’t compare with the money you’ll lose if you damage valuable trees and shrubs with DIY pruning. It’s not like weeding a garden where a small mistake is no big deal. Trees and shrubs are expensive to replace, and there’s often an emotional attachment to established plants.
- Skill and design: Your landscaper has the tools and experience to give you the look you want. A professional team knows how to prune for growth while preserving the structure and shape of your shrubs and trees. They can safely and effectively work at the crown of tall trees where pruning is a must.
The top-notch team at Epling Landscaping & Lawn Services includes experts in various specialty areas, including trees and shrubs. Not only can we help you determine what and where to plant, we also help you maintain your precious plantings through thoughtful pruning. Let’s make a plan today for winter pruning.