The Richmond Register

February 13, 2013

Tips for winter and early spring pruning


By Amanda Sears
Register Columnist

MADISON COUNTY — As spring approaches, many homeowners begin to think about their yard’s landscape. The winter months can be damaging to trees and shrubs. To ensure healthy spring plants, homeowners may want to prune the trees and shrubs around their home. But do not just prune for the sake of pruning, make sure you have a valid reason for pruning before you begin.

 Pruning during the late winter months allows for the removal of damage caused by winter winds and precipitation. The wounds caused by pruning heal most quickly this time of year just as new growth is emerging on the plant. Pruning also allows removal of diseased, crowded or hazardous branches. When pruning trees, the size of the tree does not need to be reduced too much in one season. Limit the pruning amount to one-fourth of the tree’s volume. Start by thinning out branches by cutting them off close to the tree’s trunk or a large limb.

If you have a plant that has grown out-of-bounds, pruning may not be the answer — you may need to consider replacing the plant with one that will reach a smaller size at maturity.

Leave the base of the branch, known as the collar, intact. Cutting the collar will prevent the plant from growing over the wound caused from pruning.  Pruning in this manner allows for a healthy tree that is more open to sunlight and air movement.  Do not seal or paint the wounds resulting from pruning because this will only delay the tree’s healing.

With spring-flowering shrubs, rejuvenation pruning may be needed. The best time to prune these plants is right after they have flowered. If the shrub is pruned before it blooms, the buds have been removed before their flowers were enjoyed.

Pruning is not limited to a certain time of year. Homeowners can prune at any time if they notice branches and limbs that are damaged either from weather, disease or insects.

Don’t forget about the “The Grass is Greener” lawn care class next week here at the Madison County Extension Office at from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. It is nearly time to start getting our lawns ready for spring and summer! Also there will be a meeting 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, of the Madison County Farmers’ Market at the Madison County Extension Office. If you have questions, please call 859-623-4072.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.