The Dirt on Hill Country Gardening: Let’s Trim Trees!
by LindaAndDavid in General / 01.06.09
Written by: David Steinbrunner and Linda Tarrant
We prune trees to remove damaged limbs, to trim limbs that obstruct a view, to shape your trees, to cut out dead or dying limbs, to eliminate sprouts from the base of the trunk, to eliminate branches that cut across the center of a tree or that rub other branches, to remove upright branches that compete with the primary trunk, or for some fruit trees to open the crown to get more sun and air circulation.
When to prune?
Always prune when trees are dormant, that is when they have dropped their leaves and when their sap has fallen into their root zones. This dormancy occurs only after the first hard freeze, and pruning can continue until early March, usually. For evergreens, wait to prune until some of the leaves have dropped and before new growth has started. Prune when trees are young to avoid the larger job of pruning large limbs of a fully grown tree. What do I use to prune? Use sharp tools, either hand tools, loppers, chainsaws, pruning saws, or
What do I prune?
Cut limbs back to a branch, twig, or bud that is pointed in the direction in which you want the tree to grow. When in doubt, don’t prune; you can always cut again at a later time. The position where each branch originates from the trunk of a tree is called a “collar.” This collar is between the branch and the trunk, as shown in the illustration below. This collar contains vascular tissues from both the branch and the trunk. If you cut into the trunk tissue, you damage the tree’s natural protective mechanisms and allow disease and insect damage in the trunk. Cut outside the collar on the branch side without leaving a stub.
If you have V-shaped crotches, these can pose a problem when bark becomes trapped between limbs, causing a weak attachment. These can splinter during high winds or ice storms. Remove the least desirable limb at such a juncture. If no branch collar is evident, cut upward at a 30 degree angle, completing the cut at the branch’s point of origin as shown in the figure to the left.
And, as you’re trimming your trees, never top a tree. It causes a cluster of unruly, weakly attached branches to sprout near the cut, and these are subject to wind, insect, and disease damage, besides looking unsightly.
Coum Cyclamen is a hardy variety that will survive well in our winter temperatures. Those cyclamen plants that are hardy from zones 5 to 9 will make it in our clime. Most bloom right around mid-December and through January, which brings interesting color to your landscape. These come in pink, white, and red colors. They prefer good drainage, lots of organic materials in the soil, and partial sun in the afternoons.
Chores for this week:
- Spray any poor soil areas with a soil stimulant, such as Medina Soil Activator or/and molasses.
- Plant more cold tolerant plants and trees.
- Keep on mulching, but we say this every week of the year.
We encourage your questions, comments, or your own “Personal Plant of the Week” by writing David.
David Steinbrunner, moved to the Texas Hill Country in 1998 from the Fort Worth area, and currently owns and operates the Steinbrunner Landscaping Company and Guadalupe River Gardens. David graduated from Texas A&M University in 1979 with a degree in horticulture and has over 25 years of experience in the landscaping business.
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