It’s plenty wet, but spring pruning is nearly here | GOING GREEN

The recent snow storms and subfreezing temperatures in the aftermath of Seahawk celebrations mask the fact that the spring pruning season will soon arrive.

The recent snow storms and subfreezing temperatures in the aftermath of Seahawk celebrations mask the fact that the spring pruning season will soon arrive.

February through April is the traditional time for pruning fruit trees. Winter is also a good time to work on ornamental trees because it is easier to determine what needs to be pruned before new leaves begin to grow.

There are three major items to consider when planning your spring tree work.

First, fruit trees will benefit from pruning to enhance fruit production.

Second, pruning ornamental trees is completely different from pruning fruit trees.

Third, if hiring someone to do the work, choose a reputable tree service or a professional arborist. Unfortunately, there are plenty of well-meaning folks that do not possess the knowledge of proper pruning techniques.

Fruit Trees

If they have been pruned on a regular basis, they have developed numerous water sprouts. As a general rule, one-third or more can be thinned out. Most of the remaining sprouts should be shortened to 4 to 10 inches.

Careful pruning will help control the size of a tree and keep the fruit more reachable.

Treat Ornamental Trees Gently

Severe topping or aggressive pruning of any ornamental tree should be avoided to maintain its natural shape. Not only is it ugly, but the resulting water sprouts are a survival response as a tree attempts to replenish the lost food-manufacturing branches and leaves.

These fast growing sprouts can grow up to 5 feet or more a year. This may require frequent work by maintenance crews that could have been avoided by proper thinning and pruning.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature did a number on certain species like flowering plums during the January 2012 ice storm.  The resulting masses of sprouts will provide challenges for the next few years. Proper thinning can help renovate many of these trees.

Responsible tree services and certified arborists will discourage tree topping. The key to successful ornamental pruning is to have the final result look as if very little has been done to a tree.

Overgrown Trees

If a tree is too wide or tall for its space, there are at least two options:

1 – Carefully select some of the longer, unsightly branches. Either cut them back to where they join a larger branch or the main trunk or lightly trim them back to a shorter length.

2 – Remove the tree and plant one that will grow to fill, not overcrowd, a chosen space. This is much preferable to doing a severe pruning job.  Be aware that the height estimates on nursery labels are often conservative.

Do the Right Thing

I often ask a homeowner what he or she wants a tree to look like. Sometimes I have to explain why their request may not be practical or healthy for a tree and we will discuss some options.  This should be the approach of any knowledgeable and responsible tree pruner.

Sometimes a homeowner will tell me to “do what I think needs to be done.” This can be a dangerous instruction to give because some tree pruners do not know the correct way to treat ornamental trees. The results may be painful to look at. And it might be even more painful to write a check.

I always insist that a homeowner be present during a job. That way he or she can immediately approve or express concerns of the work in progress and be available to ask or answer questions.

Dennis Tompkins, a Bonney Lake resident, is a certified arborist and certified tree risk assessor.  He provides small tree pruning, pest diagnosis, hazard tree evaluations, tree appraisals and other services for homeowners.  Contact him at 253 863-7469 or email at dlt@blarg.net. Website: evergreen-arborist.com.

 

More in Life

East Pierce hosting annual open house Sept. 29

Don’t miss out on the free, family fun activities and demonstrations, like tearing a car apart with the jaws of life.

Fun run will benefit animal rescue group

Grab your furry friend’s leash and head out to Lake Wilderness Park on Sept. 29.

Some days, it’s good to feel needed

Some days, you just need a hug. Other days, you only want… Continue reading

Local Scout earns his wings

Kyle Ross Dunning is a member of Boy Scout Troop 422.

Beautify Enumclaw, Buckley | Slideshow

Many public spaces, like Enumclaw’s community garden by the library and Veterans Memorial Park, or Buckley’s Youth Center, were given makeovers by scored of energetic volunteers.

Enumclaw lessons helped lead to military success | Navy Outreach

“Growing up in a small town, it kind of helped me gauge different people and network in a way that would benefit me,” Nelsen said. “It is humbling growing up in a small town and I did not lose sight of where I came from.”

Flu season is coming; get your shots soon | Public Health Center

To help you decide when, where, and how to get vaccinated, Public Health Insider compiled answers to some of the most common questions they see regarding to flu vaccinations.

Answers may be hard to come

You’re on the edge of your chair. Curiosity is almost killing you;… Continue reading

Caregivers can identify with “Happy Tears” | Pierce County

“Happy Tears” is the story of two sisters who lead very different lives and return home to care for their aging father.

World-wide myths, legends meet teen-friendly narrative

Your favorite superhero was 10 feet tall. Larger than life. Super-sized, right… Continue reading

Enumclaw welcomes new faces in schools, district office

Check out the new educators and other school staff.

Levy money to aid senior programs in Enumclaw, Black Diamond | King County

By 2040, more than a quarter of King County’s population will be seniors. Healthy lifestyles and social engagement are keys to living long and living well.