Spring is officially here. It is teasing us with rapidly disappearing snow and the occasional warm day. It is so tempting to get out and see what is brave enough to peek through after this miserable winter.
While it is sooooo tempting to clear away the dead leaves and other debris and give those tiny green sprouts some sun, please wait! Winter’s grip is not completely relaxed. These tender plants still need the protection that last year’s leaves and stems and even snow provide.
Did you know that our bitter cold temperatures do not kill perennials nearly as often as fluctuation in temperature does? When the temperature warms, plants start to think it is spring and juices start flowing. Sudden drops in temperature cause then shock the poor things and often kill or seriously set plants, trees and shrubs back.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the sunshine and get some yard work done. This is the perfect time to prune trees and shrubs – before the sap starts to move.
Trim away branches that are touching.
Also prune off water shoots. These are branches that shoot straight up from a branch. They are unproductive and waste energy.
As fun as it is to trim and cut and shape, remember never to remove more than one third of the growth of the tree or shrub you are working on.
So, yes, you should prune now, no, you shouldn’t clean up too much.