Fruit Tree Pruning Guide
Landscape Care & Maintenance
Conserving Water in the Landscape
Plant Care Glossary
APPLE & PEAR
It is generally best to prune apple and pear trees when they are dormant. So pick a nice pleasant, sunny winter day and enjoy this part of orcharding. Summer pruning is helpful to retard growth of the tree. So if the tree is growing very aggressively and getting taller than you like, take it back in July to control this growth.
It is generally best to prune cherry trees when the weather is hot. Do not prune in the winter or late fall or early spring. Bacterial diseases are present in all non-arid environments and are particularly detrimental to sweet cherries. These bacteria are most active in cool, wet weather. So wait until the treees has leafed out and the warm late spring weather patterns are well established - usually by the end of May - to prune your chery trees.
APRICOT, PEACH & NECTARINE
The best time to prune apricots, peaches and nectarines is in the early spring. Try pruning after the last frost date for your area. At this time, most of the winter damage can be trimmed off, and you will minimize the effect of late frost damage to your buds and blooms.
As plums are very vigorous growers, you will want to prune aggressively. Bear in mind that summer pruning, when the tree is still growing, will help contain the spreading nature of your plum tree. You cannot over-prune a plum tree. So do clean-up pruning in the winter to get rid of broken and dead branches and shape up the tree. Then in July, prune again to maintain to manageable size.
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Early Spring is a great time to cut back Ornamental Grasses. Small grasses may be cut back to a few inches above ground; Larger grasses should be cut back to about 12 inches. Clean up winter-damaged foliage on perennials. Apply Osmocote or other slow-release fertilizer according to package directions.
MID TO LATE SPRING
Mid- to Late-Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the blossoms of early perennials like Iris, Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium), Bleeding Heart (Dicentra), and Dianthus. Simply deadhead faded blossoms to keep plants looking neat.
Peonies (Paeonia lactiflora) are about to bloom, and may be staked with bamboo poles or grow-through grids (available in our nursery store) to keep heavy blossoms upright.
Apply preemergent after planting landscape beds to prevent weeds throughout the growing season. Both standard and organic preemergent products are available in our nursery store.
Refresh mulch to retain moisture and keep landscape beds looking tidy. Add only enough mulch to maintain a 2-3 inch depth, making sure to keep mulch away from stems and trunks of plants.
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This is just a general guide, intended to help with planning
year-round landscape care and maintenance. Interested gardeners
and do-it-yourselfers would benefit from in-depth advice and
further research. Our links and
resources section has excellent sources for learning more.
Generally, nothing should be pruned from the beginning of August until the beginning of December.
When to Prune: Flowering Shrubs
Some plants bloom on new growth, and others bloom on last
year's growth. Pruning at the wrong time may prevent blooming
in the next season. In general, shrubs that bloom in Spring or
early Summer should be pruned right after they finish blooming.
Shrubs that don't bloom until late Summer or Fall should be pruned in
When to Prune: Trees
The most opportune time to prune the majority of deciduous
trees is during the winter. Without leaves, it's much easier to
see their shape and branching.
When to Prune: Conifers
The best time to prune False Cypress, Leyland Cypress,
Juniper, Yew, and Arborvitae is right before a flush of new
growth (usually early Spring).
As a general rule, slow-release fertilizer (such as
Osmocote) is best applied between November and early Spring.
Liquid, organic, and plant-specific fertilizers vary in
application rates, times, and methods. When using any type of
fertilizer, always follow instructions on product packaging to
protect your plants, yourself, and the environment.
Mulch: Proper Application
Mulch is an excellent way to add organic matter and
nutrients to the soil and help plants retain moisture. New
landscaping benefits from a 2-3 inch layer of mulch. As mulch
decomposes, more can be added to maintain a depth of 2-3 inches.
Most importantly, keep mulch away from the trunks of plant
material. Too much organic matter next to the trunks and stems
will cause them to rot. Though this is a common practice, it's
very harmful (and often deadly) for plants.
Mulch: Mold & Fungi
Though unsightly, most mold and fungi on mulch is not
harmful. To discourage growth, break up or turn over your
mulch, and/or remove the growth.
Several kinds of lawn seed, fertilizers, and weed killers
are available at the nursery. For more complete lawn care
information, visit the Home & Garden Information Center.
One of the leading contributors to unsuccessful planting and
transplanting is the tendency to plant the root ball too low.
Keep approximately 1/8 of the root ball above the soil level to
prevent drainage problems and encourage healthy growth. For detailed instructions (including diagrams), click here.
Click here for printable watering instructions.
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This spring and summer have been extremely dry. Many communities have watering restrictions, so check with local municipalities for information regarding your specific location. To save additional water in the landscape, follow these tips:
- Water in the morning, when less water will be lost to evaporation.
- Repair leaking hoses and sprinklers to reduce water loss.
- Keep lawn areas mowed to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. Shorter grass heights encourage weed growth and water evaporation.
- Keep landscape areas mulched. Add only enough mulch to maintain a 2-3 inch depth, making sure to keep mulch away from stems and trunks of plants.
- Add organic matter (such as Leafgro or compost) to new planting areas. This will help the soil retain moisture.
- Eliminate weeds by pulling or applying an appropriate herbicide.
- Set up a rain barrel to collect rainwater, which may be used to water the plants in your landscape. Rain barrels need not be an eyesore: Oak barrels are a handsome solution, and are usually available for sale at our retail store.
- Replace lawn areas with landscape. Ultimately, most ornamental plants require less water, time, and expense than irrigating and maintaining lawn areas.
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Leaves that grow from the base or crown of the plant
An evergreen plant that is not a conifer.
A small-leafed, cone-bearing ornamental plant. Usually evergreen.
Pruning off foliage, and sometimes flower buds or deadheads, to renew a plant's appearance or control size
A flower that has withered, faded, and/or dried
Removing faded flowers to improve appearance of plant
Removing dead leaves to improve appearance of plant
Plants that shed their leaves annually
A plant that retains its foliage for more than one season
A plant with a low-growing, spreading habit, grown specifically to cover the ground.
A side growth that branches from a shoot or root
Herbaceous plants with slender leaves, usually with flowers in
spike or multi-bract arrangements. May be perennial or evergreen.
A small, flowering tree, used for color, texture, and understory plantings.
A flowering or foliage plant with roots that live from year to
year and tops that may or may not die back in the winter.
Removing the growing tips and first set of leaves (usually about 1/2 to 1 inch) of a plant to promote production of side shoots
To extend the bloom time of a plant
A crown of leaves radiating from the same point or close to the surface of the ground
Ripe seeds that have dried in a cluster
A larger tree whose canopy provides shade at ground level where it is planted.
Shearing a plant, usually to create rounded or mounded form
Pruning or cutting back with hedge shears to promote reblooming
A woody ornamental plant, smaller than a tree. Usually with several stems.
The stem of a plant that supports the leaves, flowers, or fruit
Removing the shoots, leaves, flowerheads, or seedheads to improve the growth habit or appearance of a plant
A plant that trails, clings, or twines, and requires support to grow vertically.
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