The Great Outdoors


DOUG HACKBARTHI always tell people not to prune or make cutbacks on basically anything until after Thanksgiving. Well, after Thanksgiving means now…any time the temperatures get cold and remain cold is considered after Thanksgiving. This is when your plants are dormant and pruning is safe. I like to wait until a warmer day in February or early March to go out and start chopping away, but don’t wait too long or things start to “bud-up”.
This is the time when pruning back fruit trees is especially important. Start by removing all of the suckers right down as close to the main stalk as possible. Leaving a small “nub” from a sucker will get you many more suckers, so cut them back completely. Next, cut back any branch that crosses with another branch because every time the wind blows, those branches will rub and create an open wound which is a great home for insects and diseases.
Now step back and evaluate the shape of your tree and consider where to cut larger branches in order to get a better-shaped tree. Sometimes you need to remove large branches completely just because there are too many of them.
When cutting off a large branch, you must be careful that the branch does not tear down the main trunk. The best way to prevent tearing is by first cutting the branch up from the underside approximately one third of the way. Then cut from the top side and the branch will neatly break away. You may need to do this two times just to remove the largest, heaviest part first, then again so that you can get up close to the main trunk with a smaller piece.
Again, the best time to cut trees in during their dormant period…after Thanksgiving all the way up until mid-March (before they bud). The exceptions to this rule would include walnut, birch and maple trees as these trees sap tend to bleed during the early spring months. Prune these trees in the early fall.
And, always use a tree trimming saw as the teeth are designed for an easier and faster cut.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer