Prune With Caution

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Pruning of landscape plants should be done to enhance the beauty of the plant, to get rid of ice-damaged branches or to keep the plant at a manageable size.

Different plants need to be pruned at different times of the year. The early spring is a season when quite a bit of pruning is done. Early spring flowering shrubs and trees such as forsythia and azaleas should only be pruned after they have finished flowering. Early spring buds are put on the year before and pruning before they bloom will take off all of the flowers. Severe pruning of these plants to keep them to a desirable size may be done at this time.

Evergreen shrubs should also be pruned in the early spring, just before they begin to sprout out with new growth. Most evergreen shrubs need very little pruning. Most often, the occasional branch that grows out of the plant and distorts the shape is the only type of pruning that should be done. Severe pruning may also be done if the plant has grown too large. Planting in locations where a plant is able to grow to its mature size without crowding can take away the need for yearly pruning.

Berry producing shrubs such as pyracantha and holly should be pruned while they are in flower, taking care not to remove all of the flowering branches so that berries will be produced.

Pruning of ornamental trees such as Bradford pear, flowering cherry and redbud may be done in April when needed. Usually, the only pruning that should be done on these ornamental trees is to remove winter damage.

Always keep in mind that pruning should not be done to change the shape of a plant, but to enhance its natural beauty. Most trees and shrubs should only be severely pruned if damaged by winter weather. Extensive pruning of trees should be done by a certified arborist. Remember that plants can be permanently damaged or even killed by improper pruning.