COLUMN: Essential landscaping maintenance includes pruning | News
Mowing, edging and raking leaves are landscape responsibilities gardeners do throughout the year in an effort to make their property look as good as possible. Pruning is another maintenance practice that can help improve your curb appeal.
It’s important to prune trees, shrubs and vines properly. Improper pruning can destroy the natural beauty of a tree or shrub and reduce its landscape potential by weakening the plant, which makes it more vulnerable to various maladies.
Pruning, like any other skill, requires knowledge and practice to achieve success.
It’s important to remember pruning is often the removal of certain plant parts that are no longer effective or useful to the plant. It’s done to redirect additional energy for the development of the flowers, fruits, foliage and limbs that remain.
Once the objectives are determined and a few basic principles are understood, pruning is simply a matter of common sense. Pruning can minimize the hazard of limbs interfering with power lines or growing over structures. It also can remove weak crotches before limbs break in strong winds or ice storms and can open blocked sight lines caused by overhanging limbs at driveways or street corners, thus preventing injury or property damage.
To do a job well requires proper, sharp tools. For the most part, gardeners need lopping shears, a hand pruner, folding saw, bow saw and leather gloves. If you run into a time when a power saw is needed, go ahead and call in a professional.
Make sure to disinfect your tools after pruning diseased plants. Simply dip the tools in rubbing alcohol or a solution of one-part bleach to nine-parts water in an effort to keep from spreading disease to healthy plants in your landscape. At the end of the day, oil the pruning equipment to help avoid rust.
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 will require pruning to keep them in bounds. If this is the case, consider replacing the plant with a smaller growing tree or shrub such as a shorter or more narrow width cultivar of the original species. Unless pruning is done to form a formal hedge, espalier or topiary, it shouldn’t be utilized to destroy or alter the plant’s natural shape.
For more detailed information about pruning, visit osufacts.okstate.edu and search for HLA-6409, Pruning Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Vines.
David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with Oklahoma State University cooperative extension.