Ask Danny | Ep. 26: When to Plant and When to Prune

Today's Homeowner TV host Danny Lipford and ISA certified arborist Billy Allen
On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen affords his knowledgeable tips about planting and pruning. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen affords his knowledgeable tips about planting and pruning.

Billy is an ISA Licensed Arborist, AUFA Licensed City Forester, an ALNLA Licensed Panorama Skilled, and plenty of extra.

He’s the proprietor and operator of Top Notch Tree Care, the place he supplies providers similar to residential and industrial pruning and/or elimination in addition to consulting providers for pre-construction preservation of bushes, illness analysis and remedy, and well being and structural assessments. He additionally supplies plant well being care providers similar to tree fertilizing, pesticide software, and soil compaction mitigation. 

Gloved hands planting a tree in soil
Arborists say the perfect time to plant a tree is when it goes into dormancy. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz, Getty Pictures Professional)

When to Plant

What’s the perfect time of the yr to plant?

Billy: For the perfect time to plant a tree, the overwhelming majority of the time it’s going to be because the tree goes into dormancy — late fall, early winter. Once you’re planting a tree, you’re going to lose quite a lot of roots, so that you need the warmth stress on the plant to be as little as it probably could be. 

The exception could be citrus bushes. You need to plant these after the final frost of the springtime as a result of an excellent freeze could be detrimental to them. 

The most important drawback I see individuals do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper is just not higher. Give it some thought this manner: Who vegetation a tree within the forest? The reply is nobody. A seed falls on high of the bottom, natural materials covers it up, and it sprouts.

You need the topmost root of that plant, whether or not it’s a tree or shrub, to be at or simply above grade. In case you have quite a lot of clay within the soil, incorporate one thing into the soil to mitigate that very high-quality materials. You need to until out three to 4 occasions past the dimensions of the foundation ball and put together that soil so it’s extra advantageous for the roots to develop out. 

Man pruning shrub/bush with pruning shears
You may prune any time of yr so long as you’re doing it accurately. (prathan chorruangsak, Canva)

When to Prune

When’s the perfect time to prune a tree?

Billy: You may prune any time of yr so long as you’re doing it accurately. I see quite a lot of incorrect pruning, particularly on crepe myrtles, azaleas and stay oak bushes. 

It’s necessary to make the cuts on the proper spot and never defoliate the plant greater than what must be finished in a rising season must be thought of. Should you do this, you may prune one year a yr. 

Should you’re going to do aggressive pruning, like with crepe myrtles, it’s worthwhile to do it throughout the dormant season. 

With flowering vegetation, there are such a lot of issues you need to take into account, however there’s a factor known as the Might rule. In case your vegetation are blooming earlier than Might, prune them simply after they bloom. This consists of camellias and azaleas. For vegetation that bloom after Might, prune them throughout the dormant season. 

After you’ve made your pruning cuts, don’t put sealant on it. The therapeutic course of happens chemically contained in the tree.

It’s truly walling off that space of lifeless tissue and maintaining that decay confined to that exact space. What you do to the surface has no bearing. 

Dying tree next to green trees against a blue skyline
A tree’s well being can fail for a lot of causes, similar to lack of water, nutrient deficiency, pest infestations, and illnesses. (HendrikDB, Getty Pictures)

Tree Well being

How do you guarantee a wholesome tree/shrub? 

Billy: It actually has lots to do with the preliminary institution of the plant, how that plant grows and thrives from the preliminary installment ahead. 

My recommendation as an arborist is to verify the soil is prepped accurately and comply with the spacing pointers. 

What are some causes for a tree’s failing well being? 

Billy: Regarding tree well being, the primary factor I see is root injury, particularly in mature bushes. Whether or not it’s compaction, chopping of roots, grade adjustments, or adjustments within the course of the movement of water, all of these issues will negatively impression a tree.

Mature bushes are lots much less tolerant than smaller bushes whenever you’re speaking about caring for his or her roots. 

How a lot injury can a tree’s root system take earlier than it begins to hurt the tree?

Billy: It’s subjective. Folks ask me on a regular basis “how a lot of those roots can I lose and nonetheless hold the tree?” The reply is, I can’t inform you. 

The best method to clarify it’s to think about a dinner plate. The dinner plate is all the feeder roots of the tree. Then think about a wine glass with a stem. The pedestal of that stem is the structural root plate of the tree. You may lose quite a lot of the dinner plate and the tree remains to be structurally sound.

Healthwise, it is dependent upon how a lot of the dinner plate you lose as to how the tree will survive shifting ahead, and that may be a very tough query to reply.

I counsel having a certified arborist take a look at the tree and offer you an evaluation as a result of each web site goes to be totally different and each tree goes to be totally different.

My normal reply is save as a lot as you may.  

Wildflower bed around an old walnut tree
A flower mattress round a tree is a good way so as to add a splash of shade to your yard, however make sure the soil doesn’t smother the tree’s roots. (HoleInTheBucket, Getty Pictures)

Backyard Beds Round Timber

What are your ideas on placing a raised backyard mattress across the trunk of a tree?

Billy: You don’t need to pile dust up across the tree in any kind. There are some tolerance ranges there, relying on what sort of soil you’re working with.

Sand is extra porous so you may get away with extra sand on high of the foundation than you may clay.

It’s all about air infiltration right down to the feeder roots. These need to have oxygen and in the event you pile a bunch of dust on high, they’ll suffocate after which the tree will decline. 

Maintain the foundation flare (the place the primary fundamental roots connect to the trunk) uncovered. Once you see bushes that appear to be a pencil approaching out of the bottom, which means the foundation flare is buried. 

The place to Discover an Arborist

An arborists inspects the foliage on a tree
An arborist can assist diagnose any issues {that a} tree might have and supply recommendation on easy methods to greatest look after it. (welcomia, Canva)

There’s a science behind what we do. With out understanding how to try this, it’s not possible to attain correct upkeep or well being methods. Go to to discover a native arborist.

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