Every year when the cold weather arrives, and the last leaves are falling off your favorite tree, you may think to yourself: “My garden is done for the year!” Well, think again! Some of the most important and rewarding garden endeavors can only be initiated during the winter months. One of these is winter pruning, and it is something that will pay big dividends in your garden or landscape! Pruning your trees and shrubs during the winter months can greatly improve the look (Not to mention the health) of your plants, so that they go into spring looking fabulous! Here are some insights into winter pruning, and why it is so essential:
The single biggest reason that winter is a great time to prune is the fact that your plants will be in a
state of dormancy. When plants are dormant, they are far less susceptible to shock from pruning. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to pruning is that you should aspire to prune your plants as needed from a young age rather than having to do a bunch of drastic pruning later on. You can still prune many older plants, but they are far more likely to become “Frankentrees” if they must be pruned drastically.
Another great reason for winter pruning is that the lack of foliage on your deciduous plants makes
pruning cuts easy to see. This really helps when it comes to bringing out your plant’s best form. If you’ve never pruned ornamental trees and shrubs before, here are some of the things to look for when pruning for form:
- Prune off any dead or dying branches. These branches can harbor pests and disease, plus they just don’t look very good!
- Prune crossing branches or branches that are going towards the center of the plant. Ideally, you want the branching structure of your plant to radiate outward. This is the healthiest shape for your plant, because branches that cross or meet each other are more likely to split or break.
- Prune off any small interior branches that don’t really amount to anything. The goal is to allow good airflow to pass through your plant, and many trees and shrubs can get gummed up with unnecessary foliage on the interior that does nothing for the look of your plant but encourages potential disease issues.
- You’ll also want to selectively thin out the branching on the exterior of the plant so that it allows air and light to pass through the plant. Keep the healthiest, nicest looking branches while removing some of their neighbors. When you prune off these branches, take them back to a branch union (Where they attach to another branch) This helps to keep your pruning cuts from being obvious.
- If you are pruning a plant for size (Like a fruit tree or hedge), be sure to make your pruning cuts right above outward-facing buds. This will generally help future growth to grow in the right direction, and will avoid having long dead stubs at the ends of your branches.
One more great thing about winter pruning? Your plants will flush out lots of fresh growth quickly the
following spring, and you will get to spend the whole warm season enjoying the beauty of your plants rather than looking at chopped up looking trees and shrubs! Enjoy your beautifully pruned plants! Our Certified Arborists can help you get the job done right. Contact us today at 360-574- 8979 if you are interested in sprucing up your fine garden.