I recently helped my cousin up in Seattle cleanup his yard one weekend when visiting. Most of his plants had not been trimmed in a while and it gave me a chance to get in and get my hands dirty reshaping a few of his plants as well a spending quality time with my cousin as we worked together on his yard. The yard was not too bad but did have some left over fall leaves and winter windblown debris so we needed to do a cleanup as well as trim the plants.
Tools - As you well know when working in the yard you need the proper tools. Properly trimmed plants require hand pruners, long handled loppers and a hand saw, you may also need a powered hedge trimmer for larger overgrown plants and hedges. I like to have the hand trimmers on my belt in a leather sheaf this way I won’t set them down and lose time looking for them. I also move all the other tools I'm using along with me saving time as I work.
Process - We started in one corner of the yard, first trimming and thinning the branches on the deciduous trees, next raking out leaves that were hiding under and inside the plants. There were a few bulbous Perennials’ and grasses needing trimming to the ground and some ground covers that needed thinning. The David Viburnum in the Shade were leggy so I trimmed them up a bit and removed much of the dead wood.
Small Trees - The yard had a beautiful Lilac tree, also what looked to be a Cherokee Chief Dogwood, some Vine Maple, Camellia, a nice looking Lace Leaf Japanese Maple and a Perotia all of which had very healthy looking buds on them. My main goal when trimming upright growing woody plants is to take out the dead wood mainly inside the trees, remove the weak non upright growing branches and the crossing out of place branches. The Lace Leaf Maple needed some major work, it was tangled badly and I ended up removing about 60% of the foliage so that the tree could somewhat start over without completely balding it out.
Fruit trees - it’s not too late to trim out fruit trees, Apples, Pears, Cherry’s all benefit from pruning each year. This helps to shape the plant but mainly helps to focus the new growth on a select few branches with the idea of creating better, healthier fruit as the tree will send valuable sugars to these fewer branches leading to higher quality fruit.
Well I wish that I would have taken some before and after shots but I left my camera at home, the before and after of this yard was amazing and the plant material really looked good with their new haircuts. Don’t be afraid to get out there and make a mess, if you think you made a mess and can’t figure it out, give me a call and I will help you clean it up!