While every plant species has its own requirements when it comes to pruning times and techniques, summer offers a prime opportunity for homeowners to trim most trees and shrubs. If your shrubs are growing tall and ragged, if limbs are growing too close to your house, or if bushy trees are blocking your view, consider these tips for summer pruning.
- Always prune dead and diseased branches. Dispose of the diseased cuttings in plastic bags, and be sure to thoroughly clean your pruning tools before you use them to prune healthy wood.
- Don’t prune during periods of drought or extreme heat, as this puts undue stress on trees and shrubs.
- Don’t prune in the rain. Trimming trees and shrubs when they are soaking wet can lead to fungal diseases (and those metal pruning tools can turn you into a human lightning rod).
- Prune weeping trees if the limbs touch the ground. Foliage dragging the ground can lead to diseases and insect infestations. When you prune these trees, vary the length of the cuts for a more natural look.
- Depending on your climate, deadheading many perennial plants can give you a second bloom in the same year.
- Don’t attempt to prune branches that are near power lines; contact your electric company and alert them to the problem.
- Use the right tool for the right job. Snips are small shears, useful for deadheading perennials. Pruning shears are good for trimming small branches. Looping shears have short, thick blades for larger branches. Pruning saws are necessary for large limbs. Hedge trimmers – gas, electric and manual – are ideal for getting shrubs and hedges into shape.
Not all trees and shrubs should be pruned in summer. Many plants prefer to be pruned during the cool, moist spring months, and certain flowering trees will not bloom the following year if you prune at the wrong time. Before you start hacking away, it’s a good idea to do a little research on your specific tree and shrub varieties to make sure they can withstand summer pruning.