Trees, General Care

Every file for each individual tree goes into some detail about issues of care for each specific tree or family of trees.
This section of Yardener's Helper goes into more technical detail for the main functions:
Selecting A Tree
Planting A Tree
Caring For A Tree

Once you've read the file on how to plant a tree, you will not have to read it again. You will know what to do and how to avoid mistakes.


When to prune woody plants

Pruning can be a confusing job. The biggest problem is knowing the right time of the year to prune.

Of course, if your trees and shrubs are planted in an appropriate place, they will usually grow perfectly well without any pruning. The best time to train trees by pruning is when they are young. Properly done, it will help you avoid major corrective pruning when the tree is older. At the same time, the shrubs in your yard will grow more vigorously and look better if you prune them routinely. 


Pruning is done for many reasons. They include: To control the plant's size, to improve its shape and to remove weak, damaged or dead branches and twigs. 


Here is a general guide for the right time to prune your woody plants:



In general, prune deciduous trees in the winter, at least a month after their leaves have fallen and they are dormant. You can better study their branching pattern in winter, and pruning cuts can begin to heal faster during new spring growth.


Early spring

Overall pruning guidelines are the same for all types of roses. This job should be done in early spring after the last frost.

Summer flowering trees bloom on this year's new growth. To encourage more flowering, prune them in early spring or during the winter.


Late spring

Spring flowering trees and shrubs such as magnolia and forsythia bloom on last year's wood from buds they formed last summer. To get maximum bloom, prune just after the plants have flowered and before they start to form new buds for next year.


Conifers or evergreen trees (pine, juniper, fir, spruce, etc.) are best pruned in only the first years of growth. A mature conifer should not be aggressively pruned back. Prune the young conifers just after the new growth is completed, usually in late spring or early summer.



To encourage growth, especially branching in fruit trees, prune in mid-summer. Cutting stimulates the development of new tissue at the wound site during the growing season. Some trees, such as maple, dogwood, walnut, elm and birch, will bleed sap for several days or weeks from pruning cuts made in late winter or early spring. Although it is unsightly, the bleeding does not harm the tree. If you prefer, you can prune them in midsummer while they are in full leaf.


As for hedges, the best looking are regularly pruned from the time they are planted. The unsightly gaps in the base of many hedges result from years of improper pruning or no pruning at all. It is better to prune a hedge every month, or even more frequently, than to do it only once or twice a year. This frequent shearing or clipping results in a denser growth habit and a better appearance.

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