Lessons in pruning .. .. ..

It strikes me that most of the shrubs and trees in my yard are growing out of control.  It also strikes me that my beautiful crabapple tree, which catches my attention this morning because it is about to burst into bloom, is a little lopsided.  The tree was planted a little close to the property line, and does tend to grow over the neighbor’s driveway.  As I look a little closer, it has been hacked on the side that stretches over the driveway.  My dear neighbor must have taken it upon himself to trim it back just a bit – that’s OK.  He’s retired and really doesn’t like to bother me.  Just makes me realize that I’m really neglecting my yard.  I spend so much time out there, weeding – planting – edging – cutting grass, but I never find the time to actually trim the trees and bushes.

Quite frankly, it scares me.

Of all the things I do in the yard, I’ve never quite mastered the art of pruning.  I have been eyeing up the lilac bush for years now.  It’s growing so tall that the blooms are out of reach.  My garden mentor once told me to trim it back to about 3 feet from the ground, and new growth will establish and bloom the next year.  You don’t want to attempt this pruning until after the blooms of spring are dead.  If you try it in the summer, you will prune the blooms for next year.  Of course, with the way that lilac has grown, I’m really going to need to get a chainsaw and get on a ladder to bring it down.  Chainsaws on ladders . . . sounds like an accident waiting to happen.  Are those bees actually drilling holes in my fence?  Sweet distractions . . .

The crabapple itself needs to be thinned.  There are so many dead branches that could be removed, as well as suckers that grow straight up.  Garden mentor showed me once that if the branches cross, you have to trim one back.  Make sure to trim the entire branch, so you don’t make the tree sick.  Of course, this might mean climbing the tree or a ladder, and just thinking about that exercise makes me want to think of pulling those dandelions out.  Sweet distractions . . .

Goal for post-blooming . . . prune that lilac, and trim that crabapple.  Now that I’ve written it, it will surely happen.

Right?

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2 Replies to “Lessons in pruning .. .. ..”

  1. With the lilac trimming: I read an article in the Chicago Gardening magazine last year that said, “trim lilacs over a three year period, or you risk no blooms”, trimming back a third of the bush every year. It must have something to do with their bloom cycle, but I have no idea if this is true as mine are too young to need trimming yet.

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