Pruning can be done just about any time. Spring may be preferred but there usually are other gardening practices that get priority. The only time that we shouldn’t prune is when the tissue is frozen.

That rule is ignored when frozen limbs interfere with electrical lines which are best left to professionals to deal with. Plants that have showy flowers in the spring are usually pruned after they bloom.

Deciduous woody plants revel their structure with the leaves dropped. Rubbing, crossing, injured and dead branches are easily identified.

Branches growing into the center of the plant and competing central leaders need to be removed. Narrow crotches, where two branches don’t have space for both to grow needs to have one removed.

The pruning cut is made one-quarter of an inch above the bud. Angle the pruning shears parallel with the direction of the bud to make the cut.

The bud should be pointing in the direction you want new growth. Normally, this is away from the center of the plant. Cutting too far away from the bud will leave a stub that won’t seal over. This could become a plant health issue.

Larger branches that require a pruning saw are removed in three steps. The first cut is made underneath the branch upward, about 15 inches away from the trunk.

Stop before the saw is jammed. Place the saw a few inches further out on top of the branch and cut until the branch snaps off.

The remaining short branch is removed by cutting outside of the branch collar which is a swollen area next to the remaining trunk.

Several sapling trees sprout up in our landscape. Redbuds, Siberian elm, hackberry, hedge and mulberry are a few trees that I find in the landscape.

Pruning them off at the ground is a start. They will sprout and need pruned several times before they will die. Another method is to treat that cut end with a labeled herbicide.

Plants aren’t in a hurry so you don’t need to be either at this time. Safety is always a priority when working with plants. Use the right tool for your task. Read and follow the label directions when using a pesticide.

You can find out more information on horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at

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