training the plant; maintaining plant health; improving the quality of flowers, fruit, foliage, or stems; and restricting growth. Homeowners everywhere turn their attention to the yard when spring arrives. It seems to be an instinct humans have, the need to whip that Arizona landscaping into shape before summer arrives. For the shrubs and trees surrounding a house, it could be that your schedule and theirs won’t mesh well at all.
Not only can improper pruning ruin the future shape of your bushes and trees – pruning at the wrong time of year can cause severe damage, even death. Did you know that more landscaping plants die every year due to improper pruning and neglect than the number lost to pests and disease? Unlike someone’s hair, a bad cut will not always fill back in over time. The damage may not be apparent for several years. It can also swiftly weaken the immune system, bringing on attack by pests and disease. Well maintained plants for desert landscaping have a strong immune system and a natural shape that is easily depleted by the activities of humans.
Why we practice pruning.
If you’re assuming that clipping, trimming and thinning is just what you do to have landscaping that looks cared for and nicely groomed, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are only four reasons anyone should ever make cuts on shrubs and trees.
- To train the plant
- To maintain plant health
- To improve the quality of foliage, flowers, fruit or stems
- To restrict plant growth
With proper planning in Arizona landscape design, heavy shearing to reduce the size of shrubs and trees isn’t necessary. The proper plant for the space should mature to the right proportions for beauty and safety. Unfortunately, this is more often not how the landscape was planted. For whatever reason, many Scottsdale and Phoenix area homes have a few to perhaps many shrubs that require constant attention to keep their height or width under control. While this may make it easier to back out of the driveway without colliding with a car already on the street or to enjoy the view out a window, harsh shearing lessens the length of any plant’s life.
In trees this practice is called ‘topping’. It is never okay to top a tree, though in cases like Crape Myrtles, this is done on an annual basis to produce bigger blooms. Not only can the tree not support the weight of these massive blooms on the young branches, but the excessive new shoots growth at the cut make for one ugly tree in the future. Left to Nature’s devices, these ornamental small trees have a very lovely shape and bloom quite nicely. Topping in other types of trees should never be done. A rule of thumb for the trees in your yard is that deciduous trees should be trimmed or thinned in winter and never by more than one third of the crown size. Evergreens should only be pruned after the new growth has hardened off in early summer.
When in doubt – don’t prune or shear. If you’re unsure of how or when to do any trimming for the best results, it would be wise to call in the experts. Scottsdale and Phoenix landscapers that have been in business for a decade or more will have the experience to know when its the right time to prune any tree or shrub that thrives in our climate and how to properly make the cuts for vigor and beauty to be maintained.