As we prepare our yards and gardens for the winter, you may be tempted to give your trees and shrubs
a good clipping. Put those pruners away until you do some research!
Pruning is a good thing. We prune to maintain a desired size and shape. We want to remove dead,
diseased, and broken branches. We want to remove suckers and water sprouts. Pruning encourages
the best growth for flowers and fruit.
Since pruning encourages new growth, different plants should be pruned at different times of the year.
You want to prune early flowering shrubs immediately after they flower. Late flowering shrubs and
evergreens should be pruned in late winter or early spring (late February, March, or early April). Trees
should be pruned in the late winter when the branches are bare and trees are dormant.
What could be the harm of a clipping in the fall?? Pruning in the fall encourages new growth at a time
when the plant is trying to go dormant. It may not have enough time to harden off before the frost and
freezing Michigan temperatures. This can weaken the plant you may have been nurturing all year long.
Have questions? Do you know that you can get one-to-one answers from the Michigan State University
Extension experts and from Extension Master Gardener volunteers? You can submit questions about
your lawn, garden, trees and shrubs at “Ask Extension”