May 2, 2012
By Samantha Mazzotta
Q: I haven’t pruned many of my hedges and trees in several years, and some of them have grown wild and ragged-looking. If they’re past the blooming stage, is it safe to trim them? Also, any tips to make this task easier? — Carol in Oklahoma
A: Trying to tackle all of the shrubbery and trees in your yard can be daunting, even when it hasn’t been several years since their last pruning. The best thing to do is take an initial tour of your yard with notebook in hand. Mentally split the yard into several sections, and then note what needs to be done in each: trimming, pruning or even removal of foliage.
Next, tackle each section one at a time. Depending on your schedule, you may need to do one section each day. A particularly foliage-heavy section may take an entire weekend. You might need help from friends or relatives to take care of large or excessively high hedges, meaning you’ll need to plan a time for them to come over. And if a tree needs complex trimming — for example, its branches are encroaching on the roof or on power lines — you’ll need to arrange for a professional tree trimmer to inspect it, provide an estimate and do the work.
Pruning on your own takes a little practice, but don’t worry too much about mistakes, as they will eventually grow out. Plants that have already bloomed can be pruned without a problem, and plants or trees that are still blooming are, by this time of year, safe to trim.
As you’ll likely be piling up a lot of branches and limbs, check with your local government about proper disposal of yard waste. Most have programs in place, such as scheduled pickup dates during the growing season, and guidelines for containers or bags that the trimmed branches should be placed in. If you hire a tree trimmer, be sure to ask how branches will be disposed of, and if that cost is included in the estimate.
HOME TIP: Keep hedge and tree-trimming equipment sharp, clean and lightly oiled so that they cut branches cleanly and efficiently.
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