Calling in the Pros

A walk through the garden can be calming. Flowers seem to nod their colorful heads as if to greet an old friend. Their scent might create a mystery of its origin, or stimulate memories associated with the fragrance. Majestic trees provide shade on a sunny day or umbrella the ground beneath during unexpected rains.

The joy found in the garden oft times originates with the familiarity of working within it. We can assess and correct for leaf damage, or note off-colored vegetation due to improper plant location, fertilization, insect damage or root issues.

Yet at times, there are tasks to be accomplished that require professional help in order to maintain the health of plants that goes beyond our knowledge or physical strength. That is the time to bring in the pros that can make a difficult task appear easy.

At this time of year, it is the arborist or person that specializes in pruning fruit trees that comes to mind. It is fruit trees that specifically have their own individual requirements for ideal fruit production. For example, some apple and pear trees bear their fruit on fruiting spurs. It is quite possible to remove the wood bearing fruit if we aren’t unfamiliar with those specific type of trees.

Sweet cherries and plums are anomalies in that they are healthier if pruned during summer months to avoid fungal or bacterial diseases not found with other type of fruit trees.

Timing is important for flowering shrubs as well. Sustaining winter pruning may be required on some shrubs after their spring bloom or risk the show of color we’ve waited patiently all year to enjoy once again. Some of those spring beauties include our lilacs, red and yellowtwig dogwoods, weigelas, and forsythias, just to name a few. On the other hand, hydrangeas and peonies can be cut back to almost ground level and flourish with bursts of color as the soil temperatures rise.

If you hire a pro, you might ask if all pros are created equal? The answer is no. If hiring someone to work on your plants, ask if they specialize in the job you are in need of accomplishing. Some arborists, for example, excel in the artistry of working with ornamental or stately trees but have little or no knowledge about working with fruit trees. Ask questions first as the loss of improper limb removal can take years to correct.

If you are a do- it-yourself gardener, read up on proper pruning techniques. Work with sharp blades. If removing large limbs, employ three cut removal rule. Remove dead or dying branches first. Remove the weakest of two limbs that are crossing each other. Thin out some interior branches to allow sunlight to filter in. Make pruning cuts back to the branch bark collar for proper sealing and do not take the tree back more than 1/3 of its seasonal growth if the tree is getting too large.

As for this gardener? I will call in the pros to work on removing dead wood from trees too tall for me to safely work on. The pros can carefully remove limbs that are also obscuring the starlight from evening hot tub experiences and also compromising the roof line of the house!

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