The Roundup -

Care Of Trees & Shrubs


March 27, 2019 | View PDF

Lilac shrub.

The first day of spring is behind us and that, coupled with the warmer temperatures these past days can now begin to see many trees starting to think about spring. If you spend some time outside you'll notice that maple, elm, and several others are beginning to think about waking up. Some trees and shrubs are "early risers" like maple, while others like to "sleep in". Don't be surprised if you don't see leaves on many varieties of ash until into May.

This time of year brings up a common topic. "When can I prune my trees and shrubs?" That is a great question to ask, as routine pruning can help to keep things healthy and growing well. Every tree or shrub needs some help from time to time. Knowing what to prune and when to prune is something that many are less familiar with. In light of that, we'll be starting to offer periodic workshops on pruning throughout the growing months. In those various sessions, we'll talk about what plants should be pruned in spring and what plants should be pruned in summer or wait until fall. We hope you may join us for one of these hands-on opportunities.

When should you prune broken or damaged branches?

There are a few basic ground rules for pruning that are good to remember. Often we are asked, "when can I remove a branch broken in a storm?" The answer to that question is "immediately." The branch has been damaged due to wind or otherwise, it may as well be removed at the time the damage occurs or soon after.

To do this correctly, prune at the point of damage or back to the nearest healthy branch or stem.

When should I remove diseased plant material?

The best answer for this is often, as soon as you begin to notice and properly diagnose the problem. There are numerous pests that can bother trees and shrubs. It is often best to sterilize your pruning equipment before and after each cut that is made on a plant. This can help to prevent spreading the potential disease to other portions of the plant.

If you need help diagnosing these issues we at Handy Andy's are happy to help. While the travel to your site is often difficult for us, many people come to us bearing samples of their issue or take pictures, some far off, of the whole plant, and some closer of the specific diseased portions.

How much can I remove from a plant in a season?

The standard rule for this is between 25 and 30% of the green growth on the plant. The removal of more than 30% can often be detrimental as plants share a relationship between their leaves and their root systems. They require so much leaf to produce food for the roots to grow and develop and when too much is removed it can cause the root system to suffer and result in the stunting of the plant.

When can I prune shrubs that bloom?

The easiest answer for this question is you should prune blooming shrubs soon after they have finished their blooming cycle. Pruning before will often remove the flower buds before they open resulting in no flowers that year, and pruning too late in the season may actually cause dormant buds on spring flowering shrubs such as lilac to be removed and thus not produce flowers the following spring.

It's okay to ask for help.

Obviously, most shrubs can be maintained fairly easily by homeowners as they generally remain below 15 ft. The corrective pruning of trees is often best left to a professional. Since trees begin at 15 ft and often achieve heights of 50 or more ft tall the special equipment of professionals can make this a safer task. For a list of licensed arborists that service your region contact your local City forester, or public works and ask them for a list of licensed arborists. You might also consider calling your County extension if you do not live within the city limits.

Always remember that we at Handy Andy's Nursery are here to help you with all of your plant needs. Our goal is your success! We look forward to seeing you soon.


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