February is the month to prune — but don’t get crazy

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 16, 2018

February is a special time for everyone. No, not Valentine’s Day. February is pruning month. For me, this is no small feat. There are many things in Hurley Park that need a trim here or there.

If you have been in the park and had a chance to see me pruning, you may have thought, “Oh, my! She has removed a tremendous amount of limbs!” But that is only because they see the piles of limbs. Most people cannot tell what I have pruned. This brings me to my next words of wisdom.

When and if you prune should not be because you just feel like it. It should be to remove anything that is dead, diseased or damaged. It should also be to help increase the longevity of the plant.

We do not top trees in Hurley Park, and we will never commit Crepe Murder. This is because we want the best for the plants, and we only prune when it is necessary. Thankfully, Hurley Park is filled with many ornamental plantings, so there is not a rigorous pruning regimen like you would see at a commercial fruit orchard. But there are some plants in the park that need a heavy pruning to help correct their structure and increase longevity.

Over the years, I have found that most gardeners are either scared of pruning, so they do not do anything, or they are the extremists and take a battle ax to their trees and shrubs. For ornamental plantings, you should take the middle road and prune to make it look like you never pruned the plant at all.

Earlier I mentioned that I have had people comment about the large piles of discarded limbs, but I have not had anyone comment about how horrible a tree or shrub has been pruned. The reason is because I prune to make it look like I have not pruned. If you have a trained eye, you can find where we have been pruning but I think you will have to look hard unless you catch us in the act.

We are primarily pruning trees right now to remove anything dead, diseased or damaged, and then we remove suckers that grow around the base of the tree and water sprouts that grow up on limbs. Removal of the suckers and water sprouts helps improve sunlight within the trees and shrubs so that we will have more flowers. Flowers need sunlight and if the tree or shrub has grown too crowded, the plant will not get the needed sunlight.

There are lots of publications on how to properly prune, and the Cooperative Extension has many free publications. They even have pruning classes this time of year. I hope you now have a new meaning for February and that you come visit Hurley Park to see all that nature provides, not necessarily all of the pruning work we have been doing.

For more information on Hurley Park, please visit https://salisburync.gov/Government/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks/Hurley-Park, or like us on Facebook and Instagram.