Year End Clean-Up & Pruning Guidelines

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A beautiful landscape NEXT year begins THIS year!  Prepare for a gorgeous landscape in 2018 with a few clean-up and prep tasks that you can take care of right now.  Getting them taken care of now means not having to worry about them next spring, when you’ll have a lot more fun things you want to get done in your landscape!

*Dealing with fallen leaves and general unwanted garden debris is easier to do now, before it gets hard-packed by winter moisture. Also since many annuals and perennials are killed by the onset of frost, it’s a great time to cut them back at the same time you rake up the general fall debris from the garden beds.

*Put a nice top layer of fresh pine bark or hardwood mulch on your garden beds after you’ve cleaned them.  Not only does it make for a neat appearance but it also serves as an insulator, keeping the soil temperature more constant and thereby minimizing the effect of the temperature fluctuations common in our winters.

*Pruning is important this time of year on SOME, but not ALL of your shrubs and trees.  Keep the following pruning guidelines close by:

DO NOT PRUNE NOW:  Spring flower shrubs like Azaleas (both evergreen and deciduous), Rhododendron, Forsythia, Lilac, Bridal Wreath Spirea, Quince, Virburnum, Pieris Japonica, Forthergilla, Weigelia and Deutzia.  Wait until just after spring flower has occurred to prune these.

DO PRUNE NOW:  Summer flower shrubs should be pruned now while they are dormant, to manage size, balance and uniformity prior to spring growth.  These include Summer Spirea, Panicle & Smooth Hydrangea, Rose of Sharon, Butterfly bush, Potentilla, Summersweet Clethra and others.

ENDLESS SUMMER HYDANGEA & other Big Leaf Macrophylla Hydrangea:

These bloom best on “old wood”, although some of the new varieties flower on new wood as well.  For now DO NOT prune – wait until spring to what old wood survived the winter, and at that time you can mound-shape the old wood for uniformity.  Be sure not NOT shear all the way back to ground level.

ROSES:  Pruning varies according to the type of roses.  For hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda roses, prune lightly by about 20-25%.  Next spring you can do a heavier pruning to remove diseased or broken canes, as well as a general thinning and a heavier all-over pruning to manage the size.  Shrub roses including Knock Outs can be pruned now down to 18-36″ in height, depending on the intended growth size.  Do a heavier pruning if you’re trying to keep the size smaller during the growing season and a lighter pruning if you want to GO BIG! Once every year or two is the only pruning they require.

CRAPE MYRTLES:  Much the same as the hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda roses, Crapes, too, can do with a light pruning now to neaten them up.  Hold off on the heavier pruning until next spring.

DECIDUOUS SHADE TREES:  Prune these now that the leaves have fallen!  For young, newly developing trees this is the time to manage thinning and branch spacing, lower limb remove, and overall shaping of the tree’s upper crown.  NOTE:  MAPLE (INCLUDING JAPANESE MAPLE) AND BIRCH are exceptions – they prefer to be pruned in very early spring or just before they break buds.  They retain sap flow in fall and winter as opposed to going dormant, so if you prune them now, they will “bleed” sap.

SPRING FLOWERING TREES:  We suggest waiting until after their spring flowering to prune these so as not to affect their flowering performance or appearance.  If they really need to be pruned now to remove dead or diseased limbs, it will not affect their health or growth.

Questions on pruning any other type of tree, shrub, or perennial? Just send us an e-mail or give us a call at 423-282-3431!

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