Pruning winter damaged shrubs and trees

compostlilacIn early spring, when I am absolutely desperate to get gardening, a good day or 2 of pruning helps keep me sane, and more importantly, keeps my plants healthier and looking better.  We had a lot of winter damage this year, mostly as a result of the heavy wet snow we received in late February.

I pruned a lot of smaller shrubs last weekend, and yesterday, pruned my poor blueberry hedge, which also was heavily damaged, and some other smaller items.img_3782

Then Dan fired up the chainsaw and the real damage patrol began.  The lilacs in the front and along the img_37801freestanding deck got a heavy thinning.  We’ve been working on these rows of ancient white lilacs for a number of years, as they had received little pruning in the past.

The trunks, as seen on the right, were 6″ or even 8″ in diameter.  The gorgeous deep purple lilac by the compost bins seen in the photo above also received a heavy pruning.  Limbs were broken outright, or often long vertical cracks were evident.


We also took down the overgrown pear tree.  Even with highly skilled efforts of our archeologist-arborist friend Bill to prune it into a productive, maintainable tree, it had just been allowed to grow unchecked too long.  Now I need to do some hard thinking about what to plant in that area instead.  Move the blueberries to that space and plant a row of raspberries where the blueberries were?  Plant a row of dwarf cherries, peaches and apricots? What about strawberries?   All that space, what to do…

In all, we took 5 truckloads of branches to the town holding area, where they will be chipped into mulch.  This does not include the pear, which we will cut up and use for smoking or in my dreams, the wood fired pizza oven I hope to build.

img_3786Later in the day, we made a trip to Home Depot to purchase a 15′ telescoping pole saw/pruner (we did check out a locally-owned store first, but couldn’t find what we needed).  We broke that out Sunday morning to remove some branches from the beech tree in the front yard, and the maple in the back yard.  In the photo at left you can see where we removed one fairly good sized branch.  We took down several branches of a similar size, and snipped off several smaller branches with the lopper.  The tree was rubbing on img_3784the roof and the front of the house.

We will need to have someone come and trim the beech tree on the street side where it was poorly pruned several years ago by the power company. The poor job they did has actually caused more growth that will cause problems with the line.  I hope to get a good arborist to make some careful cuts that will allow the tree to grow more naturally but will avoid the power line.  At the same time we will have some additional pruning done that is too close to the power line from the street to the house for us to do safely.

I love the beech tree, although it was perhaps not the wisest choice for this spot.  Nonetheless, it was here when we arrived, so we will make do until it completely outgrows the space, at which time we will have fun choosing a new tree for this spot.


3 Responses to “Pruning winter damaged shrubs and trees”

  1. Daphne Gould Says:

    I keep thinking I need to bring in a good arborist. We did years ago when we had the same issues as you did. They did a fantastic job. The tree looks great and I still don’t have any branches tangling in the wires. My problem now is that I have a million dead branches up in my trees. Some of them are 20′ up and 6-7″ around. I’m not sure I can reach them even with my pole.

  2. nancybond Says:

    Your beech may not be exactly where you would have planted it is, but it is healthy and green and thriving. :) (Tree hugger here.) Careful pruning can make all the difference. Isn’t it nice to be able to be out and doing these chores?!

  3. jeannie177 Says:

    Ah, Spring has arrived As usual. When Buddy and I get home I have lots to clean up myself! But one thing I did do was buy my tomatoe plant in Florida so I don’t have to wait to long for tomatoes this year. And I already canned 3 batches of Florida Strawberry jam. The stawberries down in Florida taste sweeter I think. In any case, it tastes really goood.
    Love you, Jeannie

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