February 15, 1992
Pruning and application of dormant sprays to shrubs and ornamental and fruit trees are timely tasks for home gardeners during the next few weeks.Both are best accomplished when the weather is mild enough to work comfortably outdoors and before warming causes sap to rise.Judicious pruning of woody plants, even if there has been little winter damage, will encourage vigorous growth, promote better health and enhance appearance.Dormant sprays are effective against many pests that spend the winter on stems, branches and in bark crevices.
June 14, 1998
Q.I planted a row of 10 white pines and spruces several years ago and want to begin pruning and training them so they will develop into large, healthy trees. How do I start?A.Start with a pair of sharp hand pruners. Spruces and pines produce new growth ("candles") each spring at the ends of their branches. The candles are compact, elongated and light-green in color. Pruning back the candles halfway will force two new shoots to emerge from the cut. This will cause the trees to fill out more quickly.
June 8, 1997
I am so disappointed that my lilacs didn't bloom this year. They bloomed beautifully last year but were so overgrown that I had to cut them back in the fall. I fertilized them, and I don't see any pest problems.Did my pruning damage these lovely shrubs?Your pruning work didn't damage your lilacs, but it removed the buds that would have produced this year's blooms. Your plants will come back and flower next year, however.Many types of lilacs do require yearly pruning to keep them productive and manageable.
April 21, 1991
At first, it seems like a paradox: One of the most effective ways toencourage the growth of a healthy, attractive tree or shrub is actually to cut, saw or otherwise chop at it methodically.Pruning at its best can rise to the level of an art with potential for a personal, creative touch. By pruning, you can enhance a plant's natural growth pattern and coax it into its optimum shape.Besides training a plant's growth, pruning provides other gardening benefits. When transplanting, good pruning can make the differencebetween life and death for your plant.
March 13, 1994
Once when I got a new job, I nearly leveled a privet hedge.The job change coincided with a move to a different house, surrounded by untrimmed greenery.At work, I faced challenges, intrigue, competition -- stress city. On my days off, I tried to relax.Soon, the way to do that became clear. I began pruning the poor privets. Every week.A nip here, a slice there with the long-handled trimmers, the manual trimming equipment that required lots of energy and yielded lots of satisfaction.I felt better, but the ever-dwindling row along the driveway started looking scared.
January 2, 2000
Q. I have an old, healthy crab apple tree that has become a tangle of branches, many of which are dead or dying. How severely should I prune it to keep it healthy? A. First, prune out all the dead branches. Then remove weak or dying branches, especially those growing across or into the middle of the canopy. If two branches are rubbing, remove the weaker one. Don't simply remove the ends of branches; make your pruning cut back to the next healthy branch or limb. You will probably end up with a lot of wood on the ground, but your tree will live longer as a result.