Trees and hedges are one key item that add character your home’s curb appeal and is one reason why Calgary is said to be so beautiful. However, like any other plant or part of your yard, trees and hedges require a bit of upkeep. Pruning can be a daunting task, we will admit! As long as you have the right tools and general knowledge, it is not hard to do yourself. Here are some basic tips to help you fluff up your trees and hedges, making them beam with health and greenery next spring and summer!
When to prune
Pruning can be done at any time, but doing it at specific times of the year will invigorate the plants and stimulate new growth – This differs depending on the type of tree or hedge. For example trees, such as crabapple, popular, spruce and junipers are recommended to be trimmed during the winter season. However, maple and birch trees are to be trimmed in fall, due to their over production of sap during the winter months. It is generally recommended to prune your trees and hedges during the plant’s dormant season, this is usually mid-fall to winter. Here’s why!
- Will prevent excess sap loss and minimizes the stress on the tree
- Hedges have not produced any new buds yet, so you are not cutting off new life
- Insects and disease are usually dormant the same time as the tree, so pruning during this time will get rid of any infestations without them growing back immediately
- When the leaves are off it will give you a more accurate idea of the shape you are pruning your tree to
- Will invigorate many trees and shrubs for the following season, as the roots will reserve more energy to support new growth
Besides the obvious answer of pruning your tree or hedges for visual and design purposes, there are actually many other reasons why you need to routinely prune your trees at least once a year.
- To thin the branches allowing for better air circulation and the development of larger branches
- To remove all “stubs” and prevent insects and moisture from moving in and causing the tree to rot
- To reduce the height of the tree so when a crazy storm hits Calgary, such as last year’s “snowtember”, the damage is not as great to the tree and surrounding area
- To remove any branches that come in contact with your home, preventing damage to your house
- Having well pruned trees and shrubs will produce more greenery in the season to follow
- To remove all branches that may be obstructing the way of traffic, threaten power lines, interfere with vehicles, lawn mowers or even just where you walk
- To remove all broken or rotting branches in order to prevent disease from spreading to the rest of the tree
How to prune
Simple pruning is not hard, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind so that you are not doing more harm than good. Your goal: get rid of the unwanted branches without causing damage to the trunk or stem.
- Be sure to prune your hedges in an A-line shape, making the top narrower than the bottom. The top gets the most sunlight and will grow quicker than the bottom
- Cut branches on the angle, as close to the branch collar that you can get (but not past it!)
- Hand prune your hedge before you shear, to thin out the branches, allowing sun light and oxygen to penetrate into the entire plant
- Be sure to cut larger branches in 3 or 4 parts
- Consider using a pruning sealer, which is a black paint like substance, that will prevent insects and disease from setting into a fresh cut. You can purchase this at any home hardware store such as Home Depot or Rona.
- Ensure you are cutting to the tree’s natural shape so it will grow evenly
- Do not cut more than 1/4 of the crown, so not to fatally damage the tree
When to call a pro!
- When making cuts close to power/ electrical lines
- When pruning very large branches or storm damaged limbs
- When you are forced to “overreach” when accessing branches
- If you do not feel comfortable pruning on your own!
See Who to Call for Calgary’s best professional city licensed arborist’s!