This time of year, it can be really tempting to get out the shears or pole pruner to start trimming down your plants in preparation for the winter. After all, now that the leaves are starting to fall and some of your favorite plants are also fading for the year, it’s easier to see the imperfections in your trees, plants and shrubs. However, in spite of your great initiative and best intentions, you may end up doing more harm than good to the lawn and garden which you’ve been spending your whole year working hard to make beautiful! So before you get going, take a couple minutes to read about why we advise you to hold off on the pruning:
COLD WEATHER DORMANCY
In the colder months, when the temperatures drop and the sunlight wanes, plants prepare themselves for the long winter by conserving their nutrients closer to the ground and in their root systems. So when you prune this late in the year, what you’re telling the plant to do is to use some of its diminishing resources to grow more instead of hunkering down for the winter.
This can reduce the plant’s ability to bounce back when the weather finally breaks in the early spring. It’s especially problematic if you prune on a warm day which will make sap rise up in the plant – but if a wild temperature swing occurs and it freezes that night, you may end up damaging or killing that part of the plant instead of making it grow more.
IF YOU MUST PRUNE…
If you just can’t help yourself, try to wait as long as you can to prune, ideally during the latest part of winter or the early spring, before the plants have started their annual resurrection.
In your zeal to be a good gardener, it may be more useful to meditate on the maxim that “sometimes less is more” – but we know that it feels good to get something done, and pruning does let vital sunlight into more of the plant to increase its growth potential.
So if you’re going to do some pruning after all, at least do it on a dry day because wet conditions can increase the damage that mold and bacteria will do to your plants before they can heal the wounds you’ve created with your shears. Make your cuts between the damaged or diseased parts of the branches and the base of the plant. Also, if branches are touching each other, you can trim the smaller of the two. You can also give priority for trimming to any branches that are growing straight up in the air.
Regardless of your pruning plans, make sure you’re carrying them out safely. This means wearing garden or work gloves (because who likes getting stabbed by the prickly parts and splinters in those branches?), protective eyewear (because who likes being poked in the eye by that branch that came out of nowhere in your blind spot?), and hearing protection if you’re going to be using a power tool (because who likes it when you say “huh?” fifteen times?).
You should also make sure that your trimming equipment, even if they’re just a simple pair of pruning shears, are cleaned and disinfected before, during and after use. Branches that you’ve cut off can leave a diseased residue on your tools which you can inadvertently transfer to the next plant. To clean and disinfect, simply add a teaspoon of basic bleach to warm water, or just use hot, soapy water. Then make sure to dry the tools when you’re done for the day in order to avoid rust while they’re in storage.
PROFESSIONAL LAWN AND GARDEN EXPERTS
And finally, when in doubt, call a professional service to do the pruning for you. It’s not wise to do more on a ladder than you are safely able to – don’t try to stretch yourself that one extra foot, or try to get that one branch hanging near the power line – because it’s not worth a trip to the emergency room. Then you’ll have two bills to pay instead of just one, so consider hiring an expert to take care of your pruning needs. (Just think about all the football games you won’t miss!)
For more information about pruning and other lawn and garden services, contact Mowbot today. We have the professional outdoor solutions that will make your home an even happier, more beautiful place to live. We look forward to serving you, your family and your business!
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