5 Tips For Winter Pruning
5 Tips For Winter Pruning
As soon as your shrubs and trees go into dormancy, you can begin to prune. Don’t think that you need to do this as soon as this happens, however. You can prune your trees and shrubs up until the buds begin to plump up, between mid-November to mid-March. If you are new to pruning, check out these handy tips for when it comes time to prepare them for spring.
Tip 1: Prune On A Dry Day
Pruning on a dry, mild day is essential to both you and whatever you are pruning. The reason for this is because you won’t have to fight the wind or bitter cold to cut back your trees and shrubs. It’ll be hard to get a nice,clean cut if the wind is blowing your shrubs all over the place. It’s also ideal to cut on a dry day because the tree and shrub cells will close quickly. This will halt the expulsion of water vapor, thus, keeping the moisture inside of the tree or shrub to ensure they stay hydrated throughout the winter.
Tip 2: Remove Dead & Diseased Branches First
Dead wood is a breeding ground for insects and fungal issues. As soon as you see that there is dead wood, especially in the winter, it’s vital to the health of your tree that you prune it right away. If the insects or fungus remain in the tree, it’s going to weaken the healthy wood due to spreading. If this happens enough or over a long period of time, the tree will die.
It’s important that you dip your pruning shears or cutting tool in sterilizing solution between each cut to avoid spreading the diseases throughout the tree. You should also make sure that you are cutting 4-6 inches into the healthy and living wood. This ensures that every single bit of the dying wood is removed. If you don’t get it all out, the problem is going to recur.
If you can’t tell where the dead wood ends and the live wood begins, make nicks in the branch, moving up each time very slightly. Do this until the wood turns green. If the bark has no green inside, it’s dead and should be removed 4-6 inches up from that point.
Tip 3: Thin Your Shrubs & Trees
Thinning is very important for spring flowering, as long as there aren’t already buds on the ends of the branches. If you shear these, they can reduce or even destroy the next year’s bloom. This is especially true for flowering trees. It’s recommend that you should only thin the tree by removing dying, dead, or interfering branches. If you are looking to just reduce height, cut some of the major canes without pruning the rest of the tree or plant.
Tip 4: Be Safe About It
Winter pruning can be extremely dangerous. It’s best if you do your pruning when there isn’t ice taking over everything on or around the tree or shrub. There shouldn’t be any risk of your shears slipping on a branch or you slipping on an icy ladder. Be sure to wear all of the proper clothing and eyewear as well. If you need to use a chainsaw, be sure that your ladder is stabilized and that you handle it with caution.
Tip 5: Prune Back To Bud Or Branch
One thing you should never do when pruning during the winter, or any other time for that matter, is leave a stub or open ends from shearing off the top of the plant. The reason is because they can create growths that ruin the natural branching habit. It can also cause disease and dieback. If you don’t want a certain branch, keep the cut above the bud. A new branch will form from that bud, remember. If you can do it, ensure that the bud faces outward so the branch will grow toward the exterior of the plant/tree.
Pruning your tree or shrubs in the winter can prove to be quite beneficial to your garden or overall aesthetics of your yard. In order to keep them well and living, you need to ensure that you follow the above tips and tricks. These will leave you with a good looking tree/shrub for as long as possible.