Winter Pruning Tips 101

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The Best Practices for Winter Pruning Shrubs and Trees

Even though temperatures in New Jersey drop drastically this time of year, there are still some essential outdoor tasks that homeowners shouldn’t ignore. One project that is often overlooked is pruning trees and shrubs. Since these plants are dormant during the cold months, winter is the best time to tackle pruning. Winter pruning and shrub care can encourage better growth in the spring.

Winter Pruning Tips

Here are six tips for pruning during the winter.

Pick the right day.

Choose a calm, dry day to accomplish pruning tasks. It is recommended to wait until late winter when temperatures are on their way back up to avoid damage from them dropping below freezing.

Know what your goal is.

Before cutting any branches, consider how you want the plant to look. The majority of people prefer shrubs to have a natural shape. In this case, branches are not necessarily even, and you should avoid cutting the tops of tall-growing bushes to help make them look more natural.

Start with the right branches.

You should start with branches that are dead, show signs of disease, or insect damage. From there, move to the lowest branches on the tree or shrub. It is also recommended to remove any random sprouts from the branches that won’t grow properly or help aid in the natural look of the tree. Branches should always be pruned where they attach and never in the middle of a limb.

Thin the canopy.

Once the branches are removed, you can focus on thinning the overall canopy of the tree to allow more sun and oxygen to flow through the crown of the tree. Limit winter pruning by removing no more than a quarter of the tree or shrub branches. Thinning it too much can encourage the growth of small limb sprouts.

Check your work.

Take breaks throughout the process to check your work by taking a few steps back. You want to look for symmetry to avoid taking too much from one side or the other.

Choose the right time.

Not every tree and shrub benefits from pruning at the same time. Winter is a great time to prune bushes where flowers grow on new limbs; these include butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, rose of Sharon, and shrub dogwoods. Evergreen trees and shade trees like oak and maple should also be pruned in late winter.

Some trees and shrubs won’t benefit from winter pruning. Trees that should be pruned after they bloom include dogwood, redbud, cherry, azaleas, and witch hazel.

Don’t overlook pruning season this year! If you have additional questions about tree and lawn care, contact the professionals at Perennial Lawn Care today.

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