58January 19, 2017

I hate to put a superstitious curse on the weather, but with the bare ground, it looks like you could be working out in the yard. The truth is, there are things you can be doing in your yard at this time of the year.

If you are like me, you never finished up with raking up the leaves. On a warmer day, the leaves won’t necessarily be frozen solid to the ground. You can also pick up any branches and twigs that may have fallen during the windy days. Doing this clean up now will save you time cleaning up when the nice weather arrives.

Many trees and some shrubs will benefit from pruning during the winter months. Deciduous trees and some deciduous shrubs can be pruned during the winter months. Many of your fruit trees need to be pruned in order to keep a more open canopy. Branches that grow and ultimately cross over each other can damage each other by the action of the wind rubbing the branches together. It is much easier to do this pruning when there are no leaves on the trees. The lack of leaves allows you do get a better picture of the framework of the trees. This allows you to look at a branch and see if it should stay or if it should go. Remember that you don’t want to remove branches all in one cut. You should take branches off in short segments. This prevents large branches from tearing bark off the tree when they finally fall during the cutting process. You will also find that many of the ornamental fruit trees will benefit from being pruned on a regular basis. Flowering crabapples, flowering pears and flowering cherries are all in this group that will benefit from a yearly pruning process. You do not want to just cut off the tips of all branches at this time of the year. Doing so will remove the flower buds that would have opened in the spring.  Keep in mind that pruning these trees is not a chore that you have to do major work all in one year. You can do a little bit of pruning this year and as your confidence builds up, you can tackle more next winter. Pruning is an ongoing process and it does help to make the trees grow better. All you need is a pruning saw, a pair of hand held pruners and maybe a pair of loping shears. With these tools on hand, you can do some pruning each winter.

There are some shrubs that can be pruned in the winter. Keep in mind that spring flowering shrubs should be pruned back after they are done flowering. For example, if you prune back rhododendrons now, you may be removing many of the 2017 flower buds. Hydrangeas are a summer flowering shrub that you need to know which branches can be cut back and which need to stay in order to provide you with flowers this summer.

Most of the other summer flowering shrubs can be pruned back now.

If you have forsythia in your yard, you can cut a few branches off and then bring those branches into your home. If you put those branches into a vase of water, they will soon produce a lot of beautiful yellow flowers.

Clean up and pruning are two things you can be doing this winter. Doing some of the work now will save you time to do other things come the spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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