When it comes to pruning trees to encourage new growth, there are only certain times of year when it is ideal to take on this maintenance task. And, one of these times is winter. Here's why. Dormant Pruning trees in winter when they are dormant is a common practice because it leads to more new growth in spring. IF you want to achieve that from your trees, then this is the time to prune them. Doing so supports current and future tree growth. Access In winter, the ground is harder, making it somewhat easier to do the work of pruning. Plus, because the branches are bare, it's easier to see and handle them during the pruning process. Disease Identification Any type of disease a tree may have will be easier to spot and treat during the winter time when the tree is bare. Healing Process By cutting the branches on the tree at the end of winter, the tree can then release the energy it has stored for the fall to heal these areas. Natural Tree Form In winter with the dormancy, the tree can be returned to a more natural form as the pruning helps to better shape the tree's look. Pruning Tips If you are going to prune your own trees, here are some tips we use in our commercial landscaping and maintenance business: Wait until the coldest part of winter has passed. This is because some trees have sap like maple, walnut, and birch, and will bleed that out if pruned then. While it's not harmful to the tree sap to bleed, it may be better to just wait until the coldest temperatures are done for the seasons. Start by removing dead, damaged, and diseased branches, which will help prevent insect and decay organisms from damaging the tree. Look for crossing branches to remove as this could cause further damage to the tree as they rub together. Remove any co-dominant leader branches, which are two branches that are growing near the top of the tree. By cutting off one of these, the other becomes dominant while other branches are not at risk from splitting or tearing during a windy period. If there is a dense canopy, thin this out so the tree can access more air and sunlight to reduce the risk of disease problems. Remove suckers and water sprouts because doing so can provide more food and water for the tree. Also, remove narrow crotches, which appear as a tree ages. Doing so can eliminate other tree damage. If you are not ready to tackle winter tree pruning, then contact us today so we can take care of it for you!
Topping trees is almost always wrong and harmful, but when it comes to doing this to the lovely crape myrtle, it's referred to as 'Crape Murder'. This practice is done by home owners and some landscapers alike, most likely due to misinformation and seeing their peers doing this practice as well. A lot of pruning efforts are culture based and not based on the science of horticulture. While the name implies that the tree will die from this act, it's a very resilient species. What this practice actually does is to keep the tree from reaching it's beautiful potential. When pruned properly, the Crape Myrtle has a vase shape that accentuates it's beautiful blooms and satiny bark. It's one of the South's most versatile landscaping trees. The most common reason for pruning these hearty trees is that they have gotten too tall for their space. In that instance, it's better to replace the trees with plants that fit the space better and transplant the crape myrtle to a better area where they can grow and shine. To properly prune these 'lilacs of the south' follow these simple steps: Remove the suckers from the bottom of the tree. Remove broken, crossed or diseased limbs. If two limbs are crossed, remove the weaker of the two. Prune just the tips of the branches to remove the old blooms. When blooms are removed another blooming may occur. Thin out the small, twiggy growth to allow air to circulate in the canopy of the tree. If a previous landscaper has committed this crime, there are measures that can be taken to return the tree to it's beautiful potential. It will take years but can be done by cutting the tree back within one to two inches of the ground. When new shoots emerge, select 3 to 5 of the strongest branches on each trunk and remove the others. After 3 - 5 years of growth the tree will be back to it's lovely shape with branches full of blooms. Whether in Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock or Jackson the crape myrtle is a staple of landscape design.