During spring and summer, landscape crews are busy with myriad tasks including: planting, watering, mowing, fertilizing. All too often, pruning shrubs and trees is pushed to the side, or performed at the wrong time. But pruning should take place on a regular annual schedule, depending on the type of tree or shrub, and should rank high on your list of landscape “must-do’s.” Following are five reasons why.
Why Pruning Shrubs and Trees Is Important
1. Pruning improves appearance.
Pruning improves structure, helping the tree or shrub to grow into a healthy, attractive shape. Shrubs may be clipped to take on neatly manicured forms, or left to assume their more natural growth habit. Trees may be trimmed into artistic shapes, or might be just minimally maintained as they find their own way in the landscape. Whichever style you prefer, make sure pruning is regularly incorporated into your landscaping schedule so that broken, dead or dying branches are removed. Well-pruned bushes and shrubs on your property show that you take pride in the landscape and want it to reflect well on your business and neighborhood.
2. Pruning fixes storm damage.
Sometimes storms ravage trees and shrubs so that they may have to be replaced, but when they can be salvaged, professional pruning is your best friend. Promptly pruning storm-damaged branches or dead limbs will encourage the closure of wounds and prevent hazards. The tree or shrub will have a much better chance of surviving.
3. Pruning removes hazards.
You don’t want dangerously dangling limbs or branches on your property. These are not only an eyesore but could seriously harm a passerby and create conditions under which you might be liable for damages. You also want to ensure limbs don’t hang in the street, obscuring stop signs and causing traffic safety problems.
4. Pruning keeps trees and shrubs a manageable size.
It’s usually a good idea to keep trees and shrubs a manageable size. Letting them grow too big may make it more difficult and more expensive to cut them back when the time comes. It also prevents damage to power lines and structures, including roofs, when branches wear away at the eaves or shrubs grow against walls.
5. Pruning promotes good growth.
Not every limb or shoot your trees and shrubs put out should be allowed to grow. For instance, rubbing or crossing branches should be removed so the plant grows in a nice, more symmetrical shape. Also, sucker growth from the rootstock should be removed, as should water sprouts from limbs.
Proper pruning also allows sunlight and air into a dense canopy so that there are fewer disease and insect problems.
When to Prune?
The optimum time for pruning depends on the species. Generally, in our region, it’s between mid-February and early May, so that trees and shrubs rapidly develop a callus around the cut. Exceptions to this are for trees known as “bleeders,” such as birches, beeches, hornbeams and maples. Bleeding is a somewhat unsightly leaking of sap, which can be avoided if pruning is delayed until after foliage has emerged.
Remember these tips when it’s time schedule pruning:
- Light pruning, or the removal of small or broken limbs, can be done anytime.
- Spring flowering trees should usually be pruned after the flowers have dropped.
- Oaks and elms can be susceptible to diseases if pruned between mid-April and mid-October, so avoid this if possible
Pruning shrubs and trees will ensure they look their best while contributing to the all-round health of your property’s landscape. Contact Countryside Industries to learn more about pruning.