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Late Winter- Early Spring Pruning

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple in Summer

Japanese Maple Winter

Japanese Maple in February

Late February or early March, is a great time to prune many shrubs and trees. Plants are still dormant, leaves are gone from deciduous plants and it’s easy to see the basic structure of the plant. Pruning is done for several reasons:

  • To Thin
    By trimming out any diseased, weak or excess growth, you improve the vigor of your plants. Light and air circulation is also enhanced.
  • To Reduce
    Periodic pruning safely reduces the size of your plants so they don’t outgrow their desired height and interfere with power lines, block windows or collapse during winter storms. Also larger fruit and flowers are produced on healthy pruned plants.
  • To Rejuvenate
    Severe pruning may be required on older shrubs and trees that have never been trimmed. Cutting dense overgrown forsythia or privet hedges all the way to the ground encourages fresh vigorous plants that bloom better.

Use clean sharp tools and prune on a mild dry day. It’s better to prune lightly and frequently instead of drastically all at once. The goal is to maintain the main stems and branches or the basic structure of the plant.

There are some shrubs, like the popular pink and blue mophead hydrangeas, forsythia and lilac that bloom in spring on old wood or growth from the past summer season. Trimming these plants down in spring would remove their flowers. Butterfly bush, crape myrtle, and spirea all bloom on new wood, or stems that emerge new each spring. So these plants can be pruned hard now to control height and prevent floppiness. Call us if you’re not sure.

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