pondering a bout of mid-winter pruning
IF THE BIG CHILL BACKS OFF A BIT MORE, I MIGHT GO PRUNE—at least remove the water sprouts that jut up vertically from branches of older fruit trees and magnolias here, and will never amount to anything but a mess that casts shade and wastes energy. I thought I’d remind you to look for opportunities in your own yard to get at the first pruning tasks (and get out of the house), things like these:
Cutting out infested Viburnum twigs loaded with viburnum leaf beetle egg cases before they hatch will reduce your problem with these tricky pests.
The three D’s of dead, damaged and diseased wood, can always go, no matter the month. Survey the yard for such wood anywhere, on any plant. Eliminate suckers at the base of grafted trees and shrubs, like crabapples, or on sucker-prone lilacs, for instance.
I’ll wait until next month, though, to stool twig dogwoods and willows that haven’t had a haircut in a couple of years. Hard pruning (also called coppicing, down near the ground) forces a fresh crop of colorful twigs.
Buddleia and other cutback shrubs will get their hard pruning then, too—probably late in the month, just before growth would begin.
I’ll also wait until March to prune the few roses I have; just around the time that the buds begin to show signs of swelling.
- A Way to Garden’s pruning FAQ offers details of what to prune when and how.