Have plan of action before taking on task of pruning

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2010

This is the time of year that folks want to prune. Yet, it’s one of the least understood practices of landscape maintenance.

Basically, you don’t prune unless there is good reason. So, what are those reasons? Read on to find out.

One of the main reasons to prune is to maintain or limit the size and shape of a plant. But, if you have to prune any plant frequently to make it fit into an area, it probably shouldn’t have been planted there in the first place. It might be a good idea to consider replacing it with a smaller one.

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John C. Coccaro is county Extension director. Write to him at 1100-C Grove St., Vicksburg, MS 39180 or call 601-636-5442. E-mail him at jcoccaro@ext.msstate.edu.

Another reason to prune is to remove diseased, dead or abnormal plant tissue, or to stimulate flowering and/or fruit production. You might want to develop a specific plant form, like a hedge, topiary or an espalier. You might need to remove plant parts that will interfere with structures or utility lines or create a visibility problem. Most of this could be avoided if the mature height and width of shrubs and trees are taken into consideration before planting.

You will notice that “trying out” a new pruning tool or that new chain saw you got for Christmas is not a reason to prune!

How to prune depends on the plant type. Most landscape plants are divided into three categories: broadleaf evergreens such as a Southern magnolia, narrowleaf evergreens such as a juniper, or deciduous plants such as forsythias or spireas. Each type responds differently to pruning, so know your plant type before you begin. When to prune is particularly important, too. For spring flowering plants, prune in late spring as the flowering season is ending. For plants that flower on 1-year-old wood, such as the Rose of Sharon, prune in late winter before new growth begins.

Control garlic, onions

before mowing season

If your lawn has a history of wild garlic — or onions — the time to take action is now. Wild garlic and onions are difficult to control due to their cylinder shaped waxy leaves and large storage bulbs below ground. Therefore, to get the best bang from a post-emerge herbicide application, the herbicide needs to be applied while the wild garlic is actively growing and has tender tall leaves that have not been cut off with the lawn mower. The best opportunity for controlling this troublesome weed is while your lawn is still dormant — particularly for centipede and St. Augustine lawns that are more sensitive to many post-emerge herbicides.

Recommended herbicides for wild garlic include imazaquin, the hormonal herbicides such as 2, 4-D, MCPP, dicamba, fluroxypyr, and the sulfonyl-urea herbicides such as metsulfuron, sulfosulfuron and trifloxysulfuron. Always read product labels carefully.