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 provides his professional tips about planting and pruning. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen provides his professional 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 gives companies reminiscent of residential and industrial pruning and/or removing in addition to consulting companies for pre-construction preservation of timber, illness analysis and remedy, and well being and structural assessments. He additionally gives plant well being care companies reminiscent of tree fertilizing, pesticide software, and soil compaction mitigation. 

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

When to Plant

What’s the very best time of the yr to plant?

Billy: For the very best 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. Whenever you’re planting a tree, you’re going to lose lots of roots, so that you need the warmth stress on the plant to be as little as it presumably could be. 

The exception could be citrus timber. You wish to plant these after the final frost of the springtime as a result of freeze could be detrimental to them. 

The largest drawback I see folks do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper isn’t higher. Give it some thought this fashion: Who crops a tree within the forest? The reply is nobody. A seed falls on prime 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. When you have lots of clay within the soil, incorporate one thing into the soil to mitigate that very tremendous materials. You wish to until out three to 4 occasions past the scale of the basis 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 possibly can prune any time of yr so long as you’re doing it appropriately. (prathan chorruangsak, Canva)

When to Prune

When’s the very best time to prune a tree?

Billy: You possibly can prune any time of yr so long as you’re doing it appropriately. I see lots of incorrect pruning, particularly on crepe myrtles, azaleas and dwell oak timber. 

It’s necessary to make the cuts on the proper spot and never defoliate the plant greater than what must be performed in a rising season must be thought-about. If you happen to do this, you may prune 12 months a yr. 

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

With flowering crops, there are such a lot of issues it’s important to contemplate, however there’s a factor referred to as the Could rule. In case your crops are blooming earlier than Could, prune them simply after they bloom. This contains camellias and azaleas. For crops that bloom after Could, prune them through 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 really walling off that space of useless tissue and holding that decay confined to that specific 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, reminiscent of 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 appropriately and comply with the spacing tips. 

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

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

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

How a lot harm 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 preserve the tree?” The reply is, I can’t let you know. 

The simplest method to clarify it’s to consider 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 possibly can lose lots of the dinner plate and the tree continues to be structurally sound.

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

I recommend 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 completely different and each tree goes to be completely different.

My common 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 coloration to your yard, however be certain the soil doesn’t smother the tree’s roots. (HoleInTheBucket, Getty Pictures)

Backyard Beds Round Bushes

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

Billy: You don’t wish 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 prime of the basis than you may clay.

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

Maintain the basis flare (the place the primary predominant roots connect to the trunk) uncovered. Whenever you see timber that appear like a pencil approaching out of the bottom, which means the basis 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 could have and supply recommendation on how one can finest look after it. (welcomia, Canva)

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

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