Tag Archives: Pruning

Pruning Workshops at Allandale Farm April 15, 2017

Contributed by Christie Dustman

Every spring, my internal panic measure ratchets up as the weather warms. Suddenly, all of the woody plants in my garden seem to need immediate help and I feel pressured to work on each plant. For each of these plants, I have to use my brain as well as my tools. It takes a lot more brain power to prune than simpler tasks like weeding or deadheading. Imagine that – pruning my plants engages my brain as much as my tools!

For many people, spring brings up those perennial questions of how, where, why and when to prune woody plants such as shrubs, roses and smaller trees: “What plants should I touch now?”, “How far should I cut it and where?”, and for almost all folks, “Am I going to kill it?”

Allandale Farm

Good news! I am teaching a 2-hour pruning workshop, “Pruning for Healthy Plants,” at Allandale Farm this Saturday, April 15th at 9am and again at 11:30am. I will show my tools and tool belt, then delve into the indispensable thought process that should precede any cutting. Just like you have an end goal when you walk into a hair salon, you should have clear goals and reasoning behind any pruning actions. As we all know, a bad hair cut can really ruin your day!

You can register here – hurry up, space is limited!

I’ll be teaching four other classes at Allandale Farm on Saturdays this month and next. To see the full listing, check out the events page on Allandale Farm’s website.

Help: I Have Spring Fever!

CD Blog pix - Brian - 4-4-14After being cooped up as prisoners, subject to winter’s cruel ways, there is a wild abandon that takes over most of us gardeners.  It is that GOTTA get out there feeling … the FEVER!  Despite our enthusiasm, spring garden tasks sometimes seem insurmountable.  Where do I begin?

To start with, quickly, before the leaves come out, inspect your garden for damage and broken branches on trees and shrubs due to snow loads.  Prune damaged areas.  Always look up into trees for broken or hanging branches.  Consider having a professional take a look if the damage is beyond your reach or confidence.

In garden beds remove heavy leaf litter that may impede the growth of emerging perennials, bulbs and groundcovers.  You can leave behind smaller pieces as it will be good organic material that will feed your plants as it decomposes.

Soft tissue perennials should be cut as close to the ground as possible (for example:  Asters, Lady’s Mantle, Baptisia). This removes all the dead tissue killed by the winter cold. Depending on the plant and when you cut it, new growth may be emerging so carefully cut off the dead tissue.

Woody perennials (for example: Russian Sage, Montauk Daisies, Lavender) should be cut back by about 1/3.  Reshape the plant by thinning and tipping back the woody stems to make a well-spaced scaffold for the leaves to emerge.

Ornamental grasses should also be cut back to 6” to 10” high at this time before new growth begins. Be careful not to cut the emerging grass shoots.

Edge garden beds with an edger tool to keep the lawn from running into the garden.  Don’t we all love clean crisp lines?

Mulch all gardens.  It adds nutrition to your soil, guards against weeds and helps conserve water.  It is easier to mulch gardens before perennials start popping up and weeds start germinating. If any weeds have germinated or wintered in the garden remove them first, even the small ones, because they will pop through the mulch. Dark organic mulch is best for growing healthy plants.

Don’t hesitate to call us for a Spring Cleanup if your “fever” runs cold before your work is done.