• Maine Landscaper

Follow Proper Pruning Techniques

Pruning is an important aspect of getting your yard ready for the winter. Reasons for Pruning? to train the plant to maintain plant health to improve the quality of flowers, fruit, foliage or stems to restrict growth According to Professor Douglas Welsh, "Proper pruning enhances the beauty of almost any landscape tree and shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape potential. In most cases, it is better not to prune than to do it incorrectly.

In nature, plants go years with little or no pruning, but man can ruin what nature has created. By using improper pruning methods healthy plants are often weakened or deformed. In nature, every plant eventually is pruned in some manner. It may be a simple matter of low branches being shaded by higher ones resulting in the formation of a collar around the base of the branch restricting the flow of moisture and nutrients. Eventually the leaves wither and die and the branch then drops off in a high wind or storm. Often, tender new branches of small plants are broken off by wild animals in their quest for food. In the long run, a plant growing naturally assumes the shape that allows it to make the best use of light in a given location and climate. All one needs to do to appreciate a plant’s ability to adapt itself to a location is to walk into a wilderness and see the beauty of natural growing plants.

Pruning, like any other skill, requires knowing what you are doing to achieve success. The old idea that anyone with a chain saw or a pruning saw can be a landscape pruner is far from the truth. More trees are killed or ruined each year from improper pruning than by pests.

Remember that pruning is the removal or reduction of certain plant parts that are not required, that are no longer effective, or that are of no use to the plant. It is done to supply additional energy for the development of flowers, fruits, and limbs that remain on the plant. Pruning, which has several definitions, essentially involves removing plant parts to improve the health, landscape effect, or value of the plant. Once the objectives are determined and a few basic principles understood, pruning primarily is a matter of common sense.

The necessity for pruning can be reduced or eliminated by selecting the proper plant for the location. Plants that might grow too large for the site, are not entirely hardy, or become unsightly with age should be used wisely and kept to a minimum in the landscape plan. Advances in plant breeding and selection in the nursery industry provide a wide assortment of plants requiring little or no pruning. However, even the most suitable landscape plants often require some pruning. The guidelines presented in this publication should be helpful when pruning any plant.

Different trees and shrubs need pruning at different times of the year, mainly depending on when they bloom or set leaves. Poorly timed pruning, especially in the fall or early winter, can injure a plant and stunt or even eliminate its foliage and flower production. There are the three recommended pruning "seasons" for common trees and shrubs across the country.

Late Winter/ Early Spring Prune summer and fall-flowering plants, which will flower on the coming season's new growth, while they are still dormant. Their bare limbs make it easy to see the plant's structure, and the flush of spring growth will quickly heal wounds. Prune random-branching conifers once new growth is visible.


Abelia Beautyberry (Callicarpa species)

Boxwood Bumald spiraea (Spiraea bumalda)

Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

Hibiscus Hydrangea Ilex (Holly)

Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica)

Nandina (Nandina domestica)

Privet (Ligistrum species)

Repeat-flowering roses (Rosa species)

Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Summersweet (Clethra species)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Trees Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia species) Sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans) Golden-rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) Sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana) Random-branching conifers Arborvitae (Thuja species) Cypress (Cupressus species) Hemlock (Tsuga species) Juniper (Juniperus species) Southern yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus) True cedar (Cedrus species) Yew (Cephalotaxus and Taxus species)

Late Spring/ Early Summer Prune spring-flowering plants immediately after their blossoms fade. Because they produce flowers only on old growth from the previous season, pruning soon after bloom will maximize flower production the next year. Pinch the candles on whorled-branching conifers when you see new growth.

Shrubs Azalea (Rhododendron species) Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) Big Leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) Bridal wreath spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia) Chinese Redbud Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) Deutzia (Deutzia species) Flowering quince (Chaenomeles species) Forsythia (Forsythia species) Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) Japanese Quince Mock orange (Philadelphus species) Mountain Laurel Rhododendron (Rhododendron species) Spiraea (early varieties) Star magnolia Viburnum Weigela (Weigela florida)

Trees Flowering almond (Prunus species) Flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata) Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) Ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) Redbud (Cercis species) Saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana) Serviceberry (Amelanchier species) Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) Witch hazel (Hamamelis species) Whorled-branching Conifers Fir (Abies species) Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) Pine (Pinus species) Spruce (Picea species)

Midsummer There are some trees that are best pruned in midsummer which is counterintuitive to most people with any gardening knowledge. Trees with heavy spring sap flow are referred to as “bleeders” or "bleeding" trees. To minimize the stress on the trees it is best prune bleeding trees after their leaves have fully developed.

Birch (Betula species) Dogwood (Cornus species) Elm (Ulmus species) Maple (Acer species) Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea)



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