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 skilled tips about planting and pruning. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen provides his skilled 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 companies reminiscent of residential and industrial pruning and/or elimination in addition to consulting companies for pre-construction preservation of timber, illness prognosis and therapy, and well being and structural assessments. He additionally supplies 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 most effective time to plant a tree is when it goes into dormancy. (KatarzynaBialasiewicz, Getty Photographs Professional)

When to Plant

What’s the most effective time of the yr to plant?

Billy: For the most effective 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 probably could be. 

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

The largest downside I see folks do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper isn’t 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 lots 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 instances past the dimensions 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 accurately. (prathan chorruangsak, Canva)

When to Prune

When’s the most effective time to prune a tree?

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

It’s essential 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 of. For those who do this, you’ll be able to prune 12 months a yr. 

For those who’re going to do aggressive pruning, like with crepe myrtles, you’ll want to do it through the dormant season. 

With flowering vegetation, there are such a lot of issues it’s a must to contemplate, however there’s a factor known as the Could rule. In case your vegetation are blooming earlier than Could, prune them simply after they bloom. This contains camellias and azaleas. For vegetation 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 lifeless tissue and retaining 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 Photographs)

Tree Well being

How do you guarantee a wholesome tree/shrub? 

Billy: It actually has quite a bit 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 ensure the soil is prepped accurately 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 injury, particularly in mature timber. Whether or not it’s compaction, chopping of roots, grade modifications, or modifications within the course of the movement of water, all of these issues will negatively influence a tree.

Mature timber are quite a bit much less tolerant than smaller timber 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 let you know. 

The simplest solution to clarify it’s to consider a dinner plate. The dinner plate is the entire 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 will depend on how a lot of the dinner plate you lose as to how the tree will survive transferring ahead, and that may be a very tough query to reply.

I counsel having a professional arborist take a look at the tree and offer you an evaluation as a result of each website goes to be completely different and each tree goes to be completely different.

My basic reply is save as a lot as you’ll be able to.  

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 Photographs)

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 filth up across the tree in any type. There are some tolerance ranges there, relying on what sort of soil you’re working with.

Sand is extra porous so you will get away with extra sand on high of the basis than you’ll be able to clay.

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

Preserve the basis flare (the place the primary most important roots connect to the trunk) uncovered. Whenever you see timber that appear like a pencil approaching out of the bottom, meaning the basis flare is buried. 

The place to Discover an Arborist

An arborists inspects the foliage on a tree
An arborist might help diagnose any issues {that a} tree might have and supply recommendation on how one can finest look after it. (welcomia, Canva)

There’s a science behind what we do. With out figuring out how to try this, it’s unattainable to attain correct upkeep or well being methods. Go to to discover a native arborist.

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