Spring’s spectacular display of color is coming to an end. Granted, later blooming plants will continue to show color to some extent but the green curtain will close on trees and shrubs like dogwoods, cherries, rhododendrons and lilacs. They will now be attractive foliage plants until next spring,.
Throughout the winter and spring, I’ve been advising you to hold off pruning these plants until after they’ve finished blooming. Otherwise, you could inadvertently remove flower buds. Now it’s OK to prune them. But don’t prune just because it’s OK to do so. Prune for a reason. Professional arborists always approach a pruning job with an objective in mind, and they communicate that objective to their whole crew.
Are your trees and shrubs too thick? Then your pruning objective would be to thin them. Does their height need to be reduced? If that’s the case, DON’T top or let anybody else top a tree. The result will be a weak, misshapen tree. Professional arborists have techniques for reducing tree height without distorting their shape.
Other reasons for pruning may be because the tree or shrub is blocking a view. Shrubs planted in front of a house or too close to a house may grow too tall or spread out too much and block the curbside view of your house. In that case, the size of shrubs can be reduced. We can prune a tree obstructing the view of a house or oncoming traffic near the end of a driveway by removing the lower branches, also known as raising the crown.
Pruning broken, hanging, dead, dying or rubbing branches can be done at any time. These branches are creating a hazard for people or property.
In many situations, do-it-yourselfers can safely prune shrubs. The same standards apply to pruning shrubs as apply to trees. Don’t remove more than a quarter of the foliage at one time. Make cuts only at branch forks or just above leaves. Don’t leave stubs. Where feasible, cut branches at the base. Wear long sleeves and long pants. You can get very scratched up reaching into a thick shrub.
Tree pruning isn’t a do-it-yourself job, especially if you have to leave the ground. Never try to prune from a ladder. Tree limbs are heavier than you think and many of the injuries and deaths resulting from tree pruning are caused by falling branches, so never work above your head.
Whether you have shrubs or trees to be pruned, professional arborists have the training, specialized equipment and experience to assess a situation and approach it from the safest perspective.