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 knowledgeable recommendations on planting and pruning. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen provides his knowledgeable recommendations on 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 providers comparable to residential and business pruning and/or elimination in addition to consulting providers for pre-construction preservation of timber, illness analysis and therapy, and well being and structural assessments. He additionally gives plant well being care providers comparable to tree fertilizing, pesticide utility, 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 12 months 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. If you’re planting a tree, you’re going to lose numerous roots, so that you need the warmth stress on the plant to be as little as it presumably will be. 

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

The most important downside I see folks do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper will not be higher. Give it some thought this fashion: Who crops 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. When you’ve got numerous clay within the soil, incorporate one thing into the soil to mitigate that very superb materials. You wish to until out three to 4 occasions 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 may prune any time of 12 months so long as you’re doing it accurately. (prathan chorruangsak, Canva)

When to Prune

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

Billy: You may prune any time of 12 months so long as you’re doing it accurately. I see numerous incorrect pruning, particularly on crepe myrtles, azaleas and stay oak timber. 

It’s necessary to make the cuts on the proper spot and never defoliate the plant greater than what ought to be performed in a rising season ought to be thought of. In the event you try this, you possibly can prune twelve months a 12 months. 

In the event you’re going to do aggressive pruning, like with crepe myrtles, you might want to do it through the dormant season. 

With flowering crops, there are such a lot of issues it’s important to think about, however there’s a factor known as the Might rule. In case your crops are blooming earlier than Might, prune them simply after they bloom. This consists of camellias and azaleas. For crops that bloom after Might, 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 protecting that decay confined to that individual space. What you do to the skin 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, comparable 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 loads 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 observe 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, slicing of roots, grade adjustments, or adjustments within the path of the circulation of water, all of these issues will negatively affect a tree.

Mature timber are loads much less tolerant than smaller timber while 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. Individuals 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 method 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 may lose numerous the dinner plate and the tree continues to be structurally sound.

Healthwise, it relies on how a lot of the dinner plate you lose as to how the tree will survive transferring ahead, and that could 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 basic reply is save as a lot as you possibly can.  

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 make certain 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 wish to pile grime 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 possibly can clay.

It’s all about air infiltration right down to the feeder roots. These should have oxygen and for those who pile a bunch of grime on high, they’ll suffocate after which the tree will decline. 

Hold the basis flare (the place the primary fundamental roots connect to the trunk) uncovered. If 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 may help diagnose any issues {that a} tree could have and supply recommendation on how you can finest look after it. (welcomia, Canva)

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

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