Goal is to keep trees, shrubs looking natural

Now that the fruit trees have been pruned and are beginning to excite you about the summer and fall harvests, it is time to think about the ornamental shrubs and trees. Most will complete their new growth between now and mid to late June. As a result, some of your landscape plants may need a summer haircut.

Now that the fruit trees have been pruned and are beginning to excite you about the summer and fall harvests, it is time to think about the ornamental shrubs and trees. Most will complete their new growth between now and mid to late June. As a result, some of your landscape plants may need a summer haircut.

If hiring the work to be done, lawn maintenance personnel are generally excellent at maintaining lawns and flower beds. However, many lack experience or supervision in applying proper pruning techniques to shrubs and trees. I have observed many unfortunate results and unhappy homeowners.

I strongly recommend that a homeowner be present during any work if possible. Be certain to have a clear understanding of what you expect to be done. Even then, some crews cannot resist the temptation to fire up the hedge trimmers and make balls out of shrubs and small trees.

There are several experienced arborists and other professionals available for your pruning needs. Ask for references from a potential individual or lawn or tree service being considered.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, the following tips will help to create natural-looking trees and shrubs. Keep in mind that the most eye-pleasing results appear as if little has been done as opposed to severely topped or otherwise butchered.

First targets: Dead and badly diseased branches are easy to spot this time of the year. If practical, removal of these should be among your first priorities.

Second targets: Remove branches that are crowding, pointing inward within a tree’s canopy or that look out of place.

Targeted branches should be cut back to the point where they join the main trunk or are attached to a larger branch. Do not leave stubs because they will die back and not heal over. Plus, they are ugly. Cuts that are made at the point of attachment will eventually be covered with bark.

Gentle tipping: Sometimes a branch may be too long and shortening may bring a tree’s crown into a more eye-pleasing balance. Make a cut if possible just beyond a twig or bud that is pointing in the direction you wish future growth to occur so you can control the direction of the new growth. This technique will help a tree retain a natural look rather than develop a stubbed-off appearance or branches growing at strange angles.

Be aware that over pruning will stimulate massive numbers of sprouts along trunks and branches on such trees as flowering plums. These may grow up to three or more feet per year. If a homeowner is so inspired, many that can be reached should be removed soon as possible while they are still small and tender. Sprouts that may eventually fill a void should be retained.

Cutting larger branches: To avoid stripping bark or splitting branches that are more than an inch thick, make the first cut six or more inches out from the intended final cut. This will lighten the weight and allow for a clean cut when removing the remaining stub without tearing the bark.

Finessing lace leaf Japanese maples: Summer is a good time to remove dead wood and to thin the crowns to display the attractive twisting interior branches of Japanese maples. These branches form the “character” of a lace leaf maple and are vividly displayed during the fall and winter after the leaves have fallen.

When pruning the low-growing lace leaf varieties this time of year, it is sometimes easier to crawl underneath and prune from the inside out. First, snap off or cut the dead twigs. Then remove crossing interior branches that are growing against the natural flow of the foliage. Finally, continue to thin out smaller twigs that are crowding. This technique makes it easier to create openings that will display a tree’s exotic-looking features.

So, get out the work gloves and sharpen the pruners and have fun with your summer pruning chores.

^

Dennis Tompkins is an ISA certified arborist, ISA qualified hazard tree risk assessor, Master Gardener and urban forester from the Bonney Lake-Sumner area. He provides small tree pruning, pest diagnosis, hazardous tree evaluations, tree appraisals and other services for homeowners and businesses. Contact him at 253 863-7469 or email atdlt@blarg.net. Website: evergreen-arborist.com.

More in Life

Enumclaw High hosts 7th annual Empty Bowls event

The event, held at Enumclaw High School, will help fund the Enumclaw Food Bank and Plateau Outreach Ministries.

Read the first two books before tackling ‘Banished’

Well, look at you. And you do — ten times a day,… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

Local students named to WSU honor roll

Students from Black Diamond to Sumner found themselves on WSU’s President’s Honor Roll.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.

This book will WOW you | Point of Review

Wow. Just… wow. Did you see that? Wasn’t it awesome? It was… Continue reading

EHS graduate McNab promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Tom McNab was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

‘School of Awake’ offers advice to adolescent girls

Twinkle, twinkle. For as long as you can remember, you’ve known how… Continue reading

Mental health first aid training in Enumclaw | The Summit

Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m., Dr. Michelle Bengtson will kick off the mental health-themed weekend by speaking on Hope for Depression: The World’s Greatest Epidemic. Dr. Bengtson is the author of the award winning “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.”

Print 3-D creations at Pierce County Library System

Bring a ready-to-print file and watch the magic of 3-D printing bring the file to life at Pierce County Library System’s 3-D Print Shop. The free print shop sessions are offered January through March at Pierce County Libraries, giving people the opportunity to use the 3-D printers to create items, get quick design lessons, and learn the 3-D printing process.