With fall quickly descending upon us, homeowners begin to clean up their properties and put garden beds to sleep. While working on their properties in preparation for the upcoming winter, they routinely prune shrubs, trees and plants. However, before you begin cutting those bushes, you need to learn a few lessons about pruning in fall and avoid mistakes on your landscape.
According to gardening expert Mike McGrath, the radio host of the show You Bet Your Garden, the rule of pruning is that you should not prune in fall and here are the reasons why.
Fall is not for pruning
Any gardening expert will tell you that pruning encourages new growth. This is the time of year when plants are trying to go dormant. If there is new growth, the plants don’t have enough time to harden before the first frost or when freezing temperatures hit. Plants will be severely weakened if you plow ahead and prune this time of year.
This is disastrous for the plants and all the hard work you did during the year to make your landscape beautiful. So, put your pruners away for another month or two and let plants go completely dormant. Once the dormancy has occurred, then you can prune trees and shrubs after all the leaves have dropped.
Remember the weather
Pruning during wet or damp conditions is ill-advised. Dampness will run the risk of spreading a lot of diseases. Additionally, the damp weather conditions encourage microbes to grow at a considerably faster rate. This is not a good case scenario and will result in causing havoc on the pruning that you just completed. Pruning is best done in dry, sunny conditions so that the cut is clean and the wound can heal properly.
There are exceptions
Although significant pruning should be done in late winter-early spring when the wound will heal faster, there are some exceptions. One exception to the rule of thumb is that you can prune any dead, diseased and damaged wood on your property.
What can you do now?
You should focus your attention on raking up the leaves, mulching and topping up the gardens so that they have a protective bed during the winter months. Remember always to remove the leaves so that they do not suffocate your lawn during the winter months. You can also amend the soils so that it is in optimum condition for next spring.
How to prune
Pruning allows more sunlight and air to filter through the trees and shrubs. Your focus should first be on removing dead or dying branches. This is done by cutting between the diseased spot and the main body of the plant. Pruning should also be done when branches are rubbing or crossing each other by cutting off the smaller of the two. Pruning low hanging branches that interfere with foot traffic or lawnmowers is perfectly fine in addition to any branch that might be growing vertically. Remember to cut back to the main stem or body of the plant.
Fall is an inspiring time of the year to prepare your property for the upcoming winter season, but pruning correctly in the correct season and weather conditions will produce a healthier and more robust plant next year. Set your sights on pruning when it’s appropriate to that you can avoid fall pruning pitfalls and watch your gardens come to life with a more beautiful landscape next spring.