The weather has been pretty mild up until today! We have experienced a small amount of rain in Johannesburg, if only we would get more. Rain is brilliant for the garden as it has nitrogen in each raindrop as well as in the lightening that strikes every now and then. Today we are going to be talking about pruning and when the correct time is to start pruning.
In nature trees and shrubs prune their branches naturally, the branches die and fall off. We have, however, over the centuries done our own pruning of trees and shrubs. The most evident is that of the Japanese styles of garden, the French and English formal gardens with their strait cut edges, lollipops and interesting shaped hedges which can often look very realistic.
As the seasons change and the days get longer, people start spending a lot more time outdoors. For many years pruning has been done in August, I usually do my roses in August and my larger trees and shrubs in September.
The reason for this is quite simple: Roses in general take a few weeks to bud properly and the flowers only bud in October / November, thus they are not affected by a sudden frost late in September / October. Where as, should you prune your large trees and shrubs in August and we have a really cold snap, the tender plants beneath the trees and shrubs are most often the ones that are affected the most.
Some gardens in South Africa have already experienced frost, please refrain from removing the dead plant matter from those trees and shrubs as you will only cause more damage should the plant experience more frost. You may end up losing the plant all together or the plant will take even longer to recover.
The image below, which was taken from the Geranium Homes Blog, shows how you should be pruning. What you should remember is that you want the new shoot or branch to grow outwards and not inwards towards the main tree or shrub cluster. This is especially relevant for roses and fruit trees. Please note that fruit trees must be pruned early on in the season as when pruning them late you will cut off the buds which have blossoms and thus turn into fruit.
- Get all your pruning sheers, secateurs and large loppers sharpened.
- If you have lawn mowers, now is the time to get them serviced and ready for the summer months.
- Take a walk around your garden, see if there are any area’s that need repair before the summer rains eg: gutters, roofs, painting and damp proofing of walls, repairing of pools.
- Repair those garden lights and irrigation before summer.
- Start getting quotes for tree pruning, it is much easier to prune the trees without leaves than with leaves (this can be done early September).
Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.