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With the arrival of spring and summer months, we always look forward to the warmer weather, longer days, and enjoying time outdoors.  But, along with the warmer weather also comes spring clean-up and yard work. It’s extremely important to maintain your tree and plants because they can pose a safety hazard to your family and home if they are not properly maintained. When it comes to pruning, one method does not fit all. Each tree and plant has its own pruning requirements, timing, and technique.

Proper tree maintenance involves pruning and trimming overgrown branches. Below are some of the tips and guidelines to protect your trees and prevent them from becoming a safety hazard.

How do I know I should be pruning my trees?

  • Hedges grow tall and look ragged
  • Tree limbs on weeping species touch the ground, which promotes disease and insect infestation
  • Landscaping grows too close to the house, which could cause damage in high winds and channel moisture to your siding
  • Bushy shrubs and trees block sunlight and your view

What are some do’s and don’ts of pruning?

  • Remove cross branches that close off and encourage disease in shrubs and fruit trees
  • Always prune dead or diseased limbs and branches. Dispose of diseased limbs in plastic bags
  • Deadheading many perennials will give you a continuous or second bloom
  • When pruning weeping trees, vary the length of cuts — some longer, some shorter — which creates a feathered and natural look
  • Always use clean landscape tools. When removing diseased branches, scrub tools and dip into bleach before pruning healthy landscaping
  • Don’t prune during drought and heat waves, which stresses trees and shrubs. Wait until temperatures are moderate
  • Never prune in rain, which makes you a human lighting rod. Let landscaping dry out for 48 hours before pruning to avoid fungal diseases

Why is proper pruning important?

  • Improper pruning can destabilize a tree, encourage the spread of disease, and even make it fall over
  • Signs of bad pruning include:
    • Tree is leaning more than usual
    • Tree looks top or bottom heavy
    • One tree is blocking the sun from another
    • Tree is too big for its space
    • Pruning cuts are jagged

What are some common pruning tools?

  • Snips: small shears for deadheading perennials
  • Pruning shears: hand shears for taming roses and grooming small branches on shrubs
  • Looping shears: have short, thick blades and long handles, for cutting thicker branches
  • Hedge trimmers: can be powered or manual and vary in design
  • Pruning saw: bowed saw for cutting branches

Spring and summer yard work may take away from enjoying the outdoors and warmer weather, but it’s necessary to tame your overgrown landscape, increase curb appeal, and help mitigate potential damage to your yard and home. Always remember one method does not work for all trees and plants. The correct method and technique should be to be used to avoid potential damage.

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