After the Storm – My Plea for Minimal Pruning
It IS important to clean up, so a certain amount of saw work is inevitable. But it doesn’t hurt to wait a minute on the re-shaping, even though the natural inclination is otherwise.
This is recent experience talking,
The loss list keeps expanding as falling leaves expose broken branches we missed earlier, but the general shape of the disaster has been clear for long enough to prompt a bit of family discussion on the subject of remedial pruning.
Also a 15 foot arbor vitae and most of the treasured oak leaf hydrangea it fell on
and a great deal more.
A lot of the clean up was pretty much cut and dried – or cut, anyway (saturated ground left by repeated heavy rains is one reason so many things went over)
But after we cleared away the broken branches, cut the stubs clean to prevent disease and removed unsafe imbalances, we were left with several trees that had – still have, actually – severe aesthetic problems, primarily in the form of major branches that cry out for shortening or outright removal.
In spite of being perfectly healthy and unlikely to cause any trouble, they’re visual offenses: out of proportion, badly spaced, no longer harmonious with their surroundings.
Bill, who prunes the fruit trees and does all of the chain saw work, kept occupied at first
But after that, having done a lot of pruning that was pure maintenance, he’s quite eager to keep going and address the art part. I, on the other hand, feel strongly that we should hide and wait at least until late winter. Two reasons:
1. Unless you’re cutting something to the ground for total regeneration, the standard rule for shrub and tree pruning is to remove no more than a third of the healthy wood each year. The storm has already done that and more.
2. I’m afraid to do anything that might further stimulate new growth. In theory, it’s so late in the season plants are already going dormant and won’t start trying to make fresh leaves until next spring. In practice, this here is being one warm November, no matter how inexorably the nights are getting longer. I see what looks a lot like swelling buds and would rather be safe than sorry.
Fortunately for the trees and for domestic harmony, just when he was about out of tasks the fishing started picking up. With luck he’ll be well occupied until it’s almost time to prune the trees that weren’t damaged.
snow photos by Bill Bakaitis