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Friday, September 19, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 2/6/2013

Always work to do, even in winter

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
IN THE GARDEN

Pull that heavy winter work coat out. We have some yard work to do and it involves a heavy coat, gloves and your favorite pruners. Take advantage of the plant's dormancy to give it the perfect shape.

Fruit trees

If your peach tree was growing like crazy last year, you should have a bumper crop this summer.

Peaches produce fruit on those branches grown last year.

It takes apples, pears, cherries and plums a little longer. Peaches will grow their best fruit on branches that are two or three years old. But the one thing they have in common is they will grow the most fruit on horizontal branches.

When your trees are just a few years old, you need to make sure you prune off everything but three to five main branches.

Those should start a couple feet off the ground. Some basic ground rules, trim off anything that crosses or grows vertical. Get rid of anything that was dead or diseased, and if two limbs are trying to grow in the same space, one has to go.

Completely remove one and let the other grow strong. Don't leave things a little stub when you prune. Nip it back with a diagonal cut all the way to the branch.

Be careful not to prune off too much at a time. Cutting off more than one third of the tree at a time could put too much stress on the plant. Also cut off too much and the plant will try to compensate by growing out of control. Once the tree starts to bud out, thin them to one blossom every six inches.

Grasses

Have you been enjoying that tower of golden stalks swaying in the wind all winter long? Chop them down before the spring thaw to make room for new growth.

If the clumps in your yard are large, you might need to bring out the heavy equipment.

A thick pair of gloves and sharp loppers will help you cut them about three inches above the ground. A saw will also help you make quick work of a really thick clump of grass.

Cut the dry grass stems off before the new growth starts to sprout in the spring.

Gotta wait

Spring bloomers like forsythia, lilac and magnolia need to be left alone until they flower. You can do some basic maintenance on them, but pruning too much will prune off the blooms.

Only prune the damaged branches or suckers around the bottom of these shrubs. Wait until after they bloom to do some major shaping.

The old branches on your hydrangea can be cut half way to the ground and anything that didn't flower should be left to flower last season.

Wait to prune those junipers or pines until later in the spring. Do it when the new growth starts to wake up in March, April, and May.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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