When To Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pruning a tree branch

As a homeowner, you work hard to keep your property in top condition. For outdoor spaces, that means paying special attention to exterior structures and landscaping. Your maintenance routine should include a tree and shrub care program that promotes healthy growth and aesthetically pleasing results. At Safari Tree, we can give you some expert tips to help you achieve these goals.

Start With the Basics

Nourishment and support are key factors for tree and shrubbery upkeep. Before you think about pruning, you need to make sure that you give your plants essential nutrients and protect them against pest damage. To start them off right and boost their growth, we recommend tree and shrub services with a multi-season approach:

  • Spring: Apply dormant oil and a deep root feeding.
  • Summer: Perform multiple rounds of insecticide and fungal spray applications.
  • Fall: Do a deep root feeding and apply anti-desiccant spray.

In early spring, an initial application of dormant oil inhibits pest infestations and staves off damage to trees and shrubs. Dormant oils are formulated to kill harmful insects and prevent their eggs from hatching. Deep root feedings in the spring and fall consist of fertilizers, delivering nutrients directly to the roots to help plants thrive all year. Pest control continues throughout the summer with insecticide and fungal sprays, designed to keep destructive organisms away. Anti-desiccant spray help trees and shrubs retain moisture during deep freezes, protecting them from drying out and suffering from winter burn.

Pruning 101: Understanding the Techniques

Besides nutrition and pest control, pruning is a vital step in caring for your shrubs and trees. It can help improve their health, shape their growth patterns and even encourage flower and fruit production. Many homeowners don’t feel confident in their pruning abilities. You needn’t be afraid to perform this simple task, but the techniques are important.

Pruning typically involves making two types of cuts: heading cuts to shorten single branches and thinning cuts to remove branches. Heading cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle and placed just after a healthy bud. A thinning cut should occur as closely as possible to the location where a branch intersects with its primary limb.

Your first goal is to remove dead, diseased, dying and damaged branches to keep each plant in good condition. You should also prune suckers or odd branches that sprout near the base or roots. Several other types are prime pruning candidates:

  • Limbs that sag or seem to compete with a tree’s central leader
  • Branches that grow too close to or rub against others
  • Branches forming acute angles with the trunk
  • Watersprouts, or fast-growing vertical branches originating from the trunk or older branches

Develop Your Pruning Regimen

Knowing when to prune is also critical to achieving best results. Not only that, each tree and shrub category has its own particular pruning needs. Summer-flowering species benefit most from pruning in late winter or early spring, while they’re still dormant. New growth on random-branching conifers such as junipers and yews can also be pruned during this time. In early summer, prune whorl-branching conifers along and spring-flowering plants after their blossoms have declined. Trees with heavy springtime sap flow should be pruned in midsummer.

When is it a bad idea to prune? Some homeowners make the mistaking of doing do during fall or early winter. However, this practice can injure plants and impede new growth. During this season, only branches that are dead, dying, diseased or crossing each other should be removed.

Tree and Shrub Care Services in Southeast Michigan

With 15 years of knowledge and expertise, the professionals at Safari Tree help maintain healthy trees and shrubs all year round. For a free quote, complete our online form or call us toll-free at (844) 500-8733.