Plants may appear lifeless in winter but make no mistake, they are anything but dead. Just like how animals hibernate, the plants in your backyard are taking a nap as well. When the days turn warmer a few months later, they are all ready to spring back to life again.
All you have to do is scratch the bark to tell how alive they are. A tender green sap beneath the bark shows that they are alive and breathing. If they are mildly green or appear dry, wait until the summer before giving up on it. In all probability, it will spring back to life in a few months. The new growth starts from the base and branches up, usually around May.
Since the branches are bare in the winter, it is a good time to prune your trees. Winter-damaged plants are hard to nurture back to health in the spring. Clip dead leaves and branches, mulch the soil to hold in moisture and feed the soil with shredded, fallen leaves to keep them healthy and thriving in the spring. In just a few months, your plants will be ready to sprout leaves, buds, flowers and fruits again. Here are a few pruning tips:
- The best time to prune is not later at the end of winter or early spring right before it starts growing again.
- Prune winter shrubs such as yew, holly, and trees such as spruce and fir.
- Shade trees such as oak, maple, katsura and hornbeam in the winters.
- Prune evergreen pines in the early summer around June and July to allow faster growth in the spring. Pruning too early can dry out the incisions and can turn dry in sub-zero temperatures.
- Pruning must be done on a sunny, dry day when it’s not too cold.
- Prune out the branches that appear weak and dead or diseased, then proceed to the lower branches in evergreen shrubs and trees. Cut off the branches at the nodes – the knotted ends from where the branches extend out.
- Snip off the overgrown branches as well. This allows more light and air to reach the top branches. Hold on to the branches that maintain the structure of the tree.
- Prune shrubs that will grow flower buds on branches in the spring such as roses, hydrangeas, summersweet and St. John’s Wort.
- Spring-blooming plants such as dogwood, cherry and maple need to be pruned after the flowers wilt in spring.
Pruning is done once every three years in late winter to early spring. It is not an easy job because it’s hard to tell the dead branches from the live ones from down below. One slip and it’s easy to hurt yourself if you’re not quite a climbing expert. It’s best to rely on professional experts like Arbor Care Tree Services for the job.
At Arbor Care Tree Services, our fully licensed and insured landscapers help you keep a neat, clean, pruned garden. We provide trimming services in the winter i