“When is the right time to prune and what should be removed?”
Pruning time and nature depends on the type of tree or shrub:
- Pine: To make a dense bush, pinch back new growth half way as it is forming each season. To make a big pine smaller, cut branches back to the trunk, or to a main junction in the branch; do this when the tree is dormant.
- Junipers are not picky; they can be pruned in almost any fashion, at any time of the year. Trim up to three times a summer if you are keeping junipers as a dense, shapely hedge.
- Spruce need little pruning. If you want to make a tree smaller, prune back the side branches. To make a spruce denser, pinch out lateral shoots when they are half formed in the spring.
- Cedars: As a hedge, shear off new growth a few times a season to maintain the form of the hedge and encourage bushiness. For trees, little or no pruning is needed.
- Maple and birch are best pruned in the winter before sap starts to flow in late February and March, or later in the spring, after leaves have started coming out. Remove any dead or diseased branches, branches which cross or rub other branches, or any branches which you feel do not contribute to the form you want your tree to have.
- Apple: There are a number of pruning methods for apple trees, and the pruning and maintenance of them is covered in the Produce & Flowers section.
- Hydrangea: Prune in the spring, cutting off twigs that flowered last year back to the first big bud from the tip. Make sure to leave this bud as it will form this year's flower.
- Lilac: After flowers start to fade, cut off some old stems right to the ground; cut back very tall stems to a strong branch; decongest the base of the bush by removing some of the youngest stems right to the ground. Take off the flower heads right after they are spent.
- Honeysuckle only needs to be pruned every few years. Prune after flowers have finished blooming; cut away some of the oldest stems to within one foot of ground level, cut back branches that are too tall to a strong side branch, also thin out some of the young growth right to the ground.