It’s winter and summer seems a long long ways away.. But then again that’s what you thought about Christmas way back in June! Time flies faster than you think.. So to get ready for the eventual summer growing season here’s a couple of tips to get you going in the right direction!
First of all winter is a great time to prune. The trees, shrubs and flowering plants like the rose pictured above are all dormant so prune them back hard is ideal right now. Additionally since there are no leaves or blooms you can clearly see the branching structures.
Start by looking at the plant from a few feet away and envision how you see it fitting into the landscape. Is it too big or lanky? Is it growing in a direction you don’t like? Is it encroaching on a structure or another bit of plant material? Now’s the time to cut it back into the shape and direction you want it to grow in and the direction you want it to take.
Cut out all of the dead material first, all the way to quick as far back as you can until you’ve got live material. This will help to thin the plant in a natural way since you don’t want dead branches anyway. Next cut back the branches that growing either straight up ( these are called water shoots) or coming from the bottom of the plant before the graft (if it’s a grafted plant these shoots are root stock that you don’t want). If allowed these root stock shoots will take over the plant and the fancy pants grafted tree or shrub that you’ve paid dearly for will return to its natural state and be a big disappointment.
Now cut back any of branches that are growing in a non desirable direction, this will help train the plant to grow in the shape and direction that you envisioned for your landscape!
Try approaching the plant from different angles so as to see the whole plant and not miss any unwanted items. Even getting on your back under a shrub or a small tree can help you see it from a new perspective thus, making sure you’ve missing nothing and thinned it out appropriately.
Lastly, try not to do all of your plants all in one day. Take your time and stand back frequently to observe your progress from afar as well as up close.
Come spring you’ll see your efforts have paid off in healthier, shapelier plants and trees that fit better into your landscape!