Elke’s Garden Tips: To prune or not to prune

Lake Country garden coach talks pruning in her weekly column

Last week I mentioned feeling adventurous and venturing outside to get some early season pruning done. The idea of early season pruning brought me to today’s thoughts about the subject, the pruning of evergreens (Conifers).

In general very few evergreens actually need pruning if planted in the correct space to allow them to naturally develop to their fullest potential.

Good reasons to prune an evergreen?

• To maintain the health of the tree

• To maintain the size

• To remove damaged or dead branches

• To help shape the tree

If pruning is needed to maintain size such as for hedging or for cutting lower branches to lift the canopy, the preferred time to prune is very late winter when the tree has gone dormant or in the early spring before any new growth appears.

If pruning, minimal pruning is best and then prune no more than two thirds of any new growth. Many evergreens cannot produce new growth from old wood so therefore cutting into the old wood could result in permanent damage, leaving an unsightly scar.

Try to keep in mind the natural shape of tree for best pruning results. Pruning conifers is very different than pruning other shrubs and trees. Incorrect pruning may result in long term damage leaving a rather unsightly tree or it could even kill the tree so take care not to be too overzealous when pruning.

Remember that evergreens will always look their best and will remain their healthiest not pruned at all.

Elke Lange is a gardening coach. You can find her at the Kel-Lake Greenhouse in Lake Country or on the web at elkelandscapingcoach.com

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