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Time for pruning

March is the time to sharpen the shears, prune trees and shrubs and cut your perennials back if you left the foliage during the winter.

I was going to do this last weekend and during the early part of the week, but I held off due to the weather.

When you prune, you expose the new tissue where you made the cut. If the temperature drops into the freezing range, it might cause branch damage.

You may not see extensive damage on most plants. However, if you are pruning fruit trees and grape vines, this damage could lead to a decrease in crop production.

Hopefully we don’t see extreme lows for the rest of this growing season. I know, wishful thinking, right?

Make sure you have sharp pruning tools. Every time you make a cut you are wounding the plant. Sharp shears prevent tearing of the branch and produce a clean wound that seals nicely.

Many are a little fearful of pruning, worrying that they might hurt the plant. You really can’t hurt plants unless you take a chainsaw to the base of a tree!

A good rule of thumb when approaching pruning is to start with any broken or damaged branches. Once you remove these, look for crossing branches or those branches that grow into the middle of the tree or shrub.

With crossing branches, leave the one that is growing toward the outside of the plant and remove those that grow toward the middle. This helps to open the plant up for good wind flow (in the case of trees and wind storms) and good air circulation.

Once you have all of the above pruning done, step back and take a look at the plant. If you have a tree with branches growing over a house or sidewalk that need removed, these are next.

If you make the pruning cut in the right place, you can prevent these branches from growing back over the house or sidewalk. This type of pruning is called directional pruning.

Do this by pruning just above a branch or bud that is growing away from the house or sidewalk. Don’t cut the branches anywhere along the stem, focus your cuts to a bud or branch.

If you cut in the middle of a stem, away from a bud or branch, you’ll get lots of regrowth. When you cut in the right spot, the cut will seal over and no branches will emerge from this spot. The energy goes into the bud or the branch just past the cut.

Take a look at trees that have been topped and look at all of the branches that re-grow from this cut. The wood that these branches on decays and doesn’t seal properly. And, you have lots more re-growth to cut back in the near future.

The right pruning cuts make your job a lot easier.

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