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

On this episode of Ask Danny, arborist Billy Allen gives his professional 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 similar to residential and business pruning and/or removing in addition to consulting companies for pre-construction preservation of timber, illness analysis and remedy, and well being and structural assessments. He additionally gives plant well being care companies similar 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 Photos Professional)

When to Plant

What’s the most effective time of the 12 months 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 may be. 

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

The largest drawback I see folks do when planting has to do with depth. Deeper shouldn’t be higher. Give it some thought this manner: Who crops 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’ve got lots of clay within the soil, incorporate one thing into the soil to mitigate that very advantageous materials. You wish 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 may prune any time of 12 months 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 may prune any time of 12 months so long as you’re doing it appropriately. I see lots of incorrect pruning, particularly on crepe myrtles, azaleas and reside oak timber. 

It’s essential to make the cuts on the proper spot and never defoliate the plant greater than what needs to be carried out in a rising season needs to be thought of. In the event you try this, you’ll be able to prune twelve months a 12 months. 

In the event you’re going to do aggressive pruning, like with crepe myrtles, it’s essential to do it in the course of the dormant season. 

With flowering crops, there are such a lot of issues it’s important to contemplate, however there’s a factor referred to 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 in the course of 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 truly walling off that space of lifeless tissue and retaining 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, similar to lack of water, nutrient deficiency, pest infestations, and ailments. (HendrikDB, Getty Photos)

Tree Well being

How do you guarantee a wholesome tree/shrub? 

Billy: It actually has quite a bit 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 harm, particularly in mature timber. Whether or not it’s compaction, chopping of roots, grade modifications, or modifications within the route of the stream of water, all of these issues will negatively affect a tree.

Mature timber are quite a bit much less tolerant than smaller timber once you’re speaking about caring for his or her roots. 

How a lot harm 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 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 may lose lots of the dinner plate and the tree continues to be structurally sound.

Healthwise, it is dependent 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 tough query to reply.

I counsel having a professional arborist have a look at the tree and provide you with an evaluation as a result of each website goes to be totally different and each tree goes to be totally different.

My common reply is save as a lot as you’ll be able to.  

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 be certain the soil doesn’t smother the tree’s roots. (HoleInTheBucket, Getty Photos)

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 prime of the foundation than you’ll be able to clay.

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

Preserve the foundation flare (the place the primary predominant 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 might help diagnose any issues {that a} tree could have and supply recommendation on 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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