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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.

Tackle Your Winter Pruning and Winter Blues by Attending Gardener's Day


Pruning your trees and shrubs can be done almost any time of year, however, it is best to avoid making any pruning cuts while woody plants are preparing for dormancy in early fall. So the old adage to prune 'when the saw is sharp' is mostly true. When asked for the ideal time of year to prune, many Extension services recommend pruning while trees and shrubs are dormant. Dormant pruning is often my recommendation to homeowners. When trees and shrubs are devoid of leaves this reveals the structure or 'bones' of the plant, which makes it easier to identify and strategically make your cuts. Plus, pruning during the cold winter months ensures there is no transfer of disease and there are no pests to take advantage of the wounds we create. Spring sees a surge in vegetative growth in most woody plants, which facilitates healing where we made our pruning cuts earlier in the winter. Of course always be mindful of the type of woody plant that is to be the target of your pruners. For instance if you have a spring-blooming shrub that set it's flower buds in the fall, like a lilac, then pruning during dormancy will remove those flower buds.

I must admit this year has proved to be exceptionally difficult to get out there and trim back my landscape shrubs and trees. This final weekend of February I found myself ready to tackle my winter yard chores. With pruners on my belt and loppers in my hand I made my way outside, only to be met with a howling wind that quickly changed my motivations. So I retreated back to the warmth of my home and like the proverbial groundhog, I will give it another try after a few more weeks of winter.

If you also find yourself hibernating in your home during this inauspicious weather, shake off those winter blues by joining Extension and Master Gardener's for their 19th annual Gardener's Day on March 15 at the WIU student union. Want to learn more about pruning your trees? Check out the Tools for Trees session in which retired Davenport, Iowa city arborist Keith Majors details what tools work best for pruning trees. That and much more at this year's Gardener's Day! Register ONLINE or call 309-837-3939 with any questions.



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