Deciding when to prune/trim is confusing to many people because there is no one-size-fits-all answer and even the experts can’t always agree. Yet, it is the most commonly asked question of gardeners, landscapers and arborists! Pruning of live branches is not as critical as many people think, but it is worthy of discussion.
The Best Times for Pruning: (the opposite of Part 1; Worst Times)
In general, the optimal times for ornamental tree and shrub trimming is early spring and summer and those should be the go-to times if you are unsure. Don’t let timing keep you from grabbing your pruners if a haircut is truly needed and you just can’t wait!
If you are trying to figure out the best time to prune/trim, start first with the worst times to prune (because more experts agree on these) and work backwards from there.
So, what are the worst case scenarios in pruning at the ‘wrong time’?
One important point is that pruning at the “wrong” time of year probably won’t kill your tree or shrub, but it may weaken it in the long run. Indeed many plants are trimmed at less than ideal times and yet they survive.
The Worst Times for Pruning:
To be continued in When To Trim, Part 2.
A recent story in which 2 people were killed when a tree fell on their car has brought about the question who will pay and who is responsible for these deaths? The land that the tree was on is supposedly owned by the City of Abington, but because it is unclear, the city must take a new survey of the property lines to see if the tree actually was on city land and also provide evidence that the city had exercised their duty of care to avoid a large payout. A duty of care is the city’s legal obligation to ensure a reasonable degree of safety for people and property near their trees. As a tree owner, you also have the same duty of care for trees on your property. Simply calling a tree falling over an ‘Act of God’ doesn’t always avoid a pointed finger.
Maintaining your trees at the very minimum should include an assessment of trees that could fall onto people or property (including neighbors, public sidewalks, roadways and utility lines). In the event that one of your trees did fall and a court case ensued, you would be able to prove that you exercised your tree care duty/responsibility by having an assessment done by a Certified Arborist. Sometimes, tree removal may be your only option depending on the conditions that are discovered upon inspection and your comfort level with the fall likelihood. In other instances, there are ways to lessen the risk that it will fall by installing cables/braces, specialty pruning and/or continuing to monitor the tree on a regular basis and before storms.
There will always be a risk as long as a tree is standing, but these options help to lessen the risk level and allow you to keep a tree that you really love and wouldn’t want to remove. Large, mature trees are typically what cause people to be scared but they also provide many benefits such as providing shade and cooling, clean air, etc. and are worth keeping if practical and non-threatening.
If your trees are growing in lawn or a bare soil area of your yard, they will benefit from having a mulch ring around their base for many reasons. The main advantage is that it will keep lawn mowers and weed whackers away from the trunk where they can cause bark injury. Mulch will also suppress weeds, hold moisture during drought, buffer air temperature extremes and help with soil runoff.
Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a mulch ring around your tree:
Mulch is an great way to enhance tree appearance and health. Your trees will thank you!