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 gives his skilled recommendations on planting and pruning. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen gives his skilled recommendations on planting and pruning.

Billy is an ISA Licensed Arborist, AUFA Licensed City Forester, an ALNLA Licensed Panorama Skilled, and lots of extra.

He’s the proprietor and operator of Top Notch Tree Care, the place he gives companies akin to residential and business 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 gives plant well being care companies akin to 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 will be. 

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

The largest downside I see individuals do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper will not be higher. Give it some thought this fashion: Who vegetation 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 wonderful materials. You need to until out three to 4 occasions past the scale of the foundation 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 most effective 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 stay oak timber. 

It’s essential to make the cuts on the proper spot and never defoliate the plant greater than what needs to be completed in a rising season needs to be thought-about. If you happen to do this, you possibly can prune three hundred and sixty five days a yr. 

If you happen to’re going to do aggressive pruning, like with crepe myrtles, you’ll want to do it throughout the dormant season. 

With flowering vegetation, there are such a lot of issues you need 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 consists of camellias and azaleas. For vegetation that bloom after Could, prune them throughout 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 conserving that decay confined to that exact 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, akin to lack of water, nutrient deficiency, pest infestations, and ailments. (HendrikDB, Getty Photographs)

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 verify the soil is prepped appropriately and observe the spacing pointers. 

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 move of water, all of these issues will negatively influence 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 solution to clarify it’s to think about 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 remains 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 may be a very troublesome 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 website goes to be completely different and each tree goes to be completely different.

My normal reply is save as a lot as you possibly can.  

Wildflower bed around an old walnut tree
A flower mattress round a tree is an effective way so as to add a splash of coloration to your yard, however make sure the soil doesn’t smother the tree’s roots. (HoleInTheBucket, Getty Photographs)

Backyard Beds Round Bushes

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 kind. 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 prime of the foundation than you possibly can clay.

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

Maintain the foundation flare (the place the primary essential roots connect to the trunk) uncovered. Whenever you see timber that appear to be a pencil approaching out of the bottom, meaning the foundation flare is buried. 

The place to Discover an Arborist

An arborists inspects the foliage on a tree
An arborist will help diagnose any issues {that a} tree might have and supply recommendation on tips on how to finest take care of it. (welcomia, Canva)

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

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