Spring Tree Planting & Pruning

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National Arbor Day is a day to plant a tree. Some people do this to remember a loved one or to teach the youth to appreciate plants. Overall, it’s a good practice as long as you have room for the tree to reach its mature size. Many trees we purchase at the garden center are in 1-to5-gallon containers. It’s hard to imagine how tall and wide that plant might get even when it’s written on the plant label.

I was watching a gardening show the other day and the garden designer had the home gardener use a tape measure to measure the site for the mature size of the plant. What a great idea! If the mature width of the tree will be 40 feet, divide that by 2 and get 20 feet. Measure 20 feet from where you want to plant the tree and make sure it won’t be rubbing up against the house, barn or interfering with sidewalk or parking areas. With this in mind, pruning won’t become an annual task.

Speaking of pruning, when those azaleas, forsythia and other spring flowering shrubs finish blooming this month, it’s time to prune them. Rather than taking a hedge trimmer to them, try selectively pruning out the limbs that have grown out of bounds, back below the desired height. This should keep the natural appearance of the plant while maintaining the desired height and width of the plant.