You would think that the winter months are not the occasion for yard work. That is mostly true except for pruning your shrubs and trees.

After a good hard freeze, when the sap stops flowing is the ideal time to shape up your shrubs and open up the canopies under your trees. Shrubs and trees that bloom from May through September should be pruned in January.

Pruning is needed to control the size and shape of your shrubs and trees. For example, my crepe myrtle tends to want to sprout extra small branches on the inside of the tree. Cut these crossover branches and only leave three sturdy ones coming from the base. Never ever commit “myrtle murder” like you see the tree companies doing in the spring, chopping off the tops and leaving unattractive bulbous knots that sprout spindly branches as the weather warms.

As for shrubs, use sharp heavy-duty pruning shears and remove one-third of the shrub all the way around. It might look naked during the dormant months but will reward you with thick verdant growth in the spring.

Just like your hair looks thicker and healthier after a trim, so will your shrubs and trees! So get your pruning tools out and do your garden a favor!

Step back. Walk around your tree of life. Do you see any dead branches that need pruning?

Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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