Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How (Not) to Prune Trees



  • Pruning trees in the fall in most parts of the US is not a good idea. The exposed stumps are ripe for the winter weather and could permanently damage the tree. Therefore, if you get a burst of "spring fever" in the fall and head outside, saw or pruners in hand, remember this advice, turn around, go back inside and get yourself two ibuprofen or a shot of whisky or get amorous with your husband until the feeling passes.

  • Toward the end of winter when that spring fever returns, get yourself a Stanley JetCut saw that cuts as it moves forward and backward for the job.

  • Basic rule of thumb, a plant only has so much energy to spare, so make sure you cut off the little tiny new limbs that are heading for the center of the plant/tree or crossing over other major limbs. You could use pruning shears but I prefer the saw for two reasons: I only have to carry one tool and I can blaze right through those puny little branches like a hot knife through butter - yeehaw!

  • Carrying one tool means that after 15 minutes when my pruning spurt has transformed itself from fun to work, I only have one thing to put away.

  • Which brings me to the next point: prune when your husband is away so that you don't have to clean up all your clippings when you're done. You can save it for another day when you have another absurd impulse to go outside and work in the yard instead of sitting in a sunny window with a good book.

  • Be aware, if you have a dog, that these pruned branches on the ground are terribly inviting. If you don't want to follow your pet around the house for the next 24 hours cleaning up regurgitated wood bits and bunny poo, keep him/her inside until you've cleaned up your clippings.

  • Further, if you are a dog owner, watch for undesirable deposits beneath bushy trees or plants you could step in. Smelly deposits that you don't want on your shoes.

  • Don't wait seven years after you move into your house to prune the trees in your yard for the first time. The fifteen minutes of energy you want to invest in this project will not nearly be enough.

  • That said, if some of the branches are already dead because of the pitiful way you've neglected your yard, these will be far easier to saw off the tree than the green branches and will give you a terrific sense of accomplishment when they crack off the tree and fall to the ground.

  • If you are averse to large stores of sawdust in your bra and nostrils, don't position yourself directly beneath the branch you are sawing.

  • Finally, pruning trees in the sunshine while you are mildly sick (as opposed to feverishly ill) will result in sweat and muscle quivering sooner than when you are perfectly healthy and leave you feeling as though you did a great deal more work than you did, thus giving you the right to put your feet up for the rest of the evening and order pizza for dinner instead of cooking for the children.
ADDENDUM: If you are not prone to fits of pruning and happen to have a slipped disc in your neck, this activity will most certainly result in painful tossing and turning from 2:30-4:30am, large doses of anti-inflammatories, and Ben Gay for your shoulders. You will most likely not repeat this activity for another seven years and the clippings are not likely to be cleaned up any time soon.
Happy Pruning!

6 comments:

Scott from Oregon said...

I am guilty of late fall pruning.

So far, it hasn't curse me.

I leave the branches on the ground and then run over them in the spring with the lawn mower.

That's just the way I roll...

Go Mama said...

Duly noted!

Personally, I like to wear a baseball cap and long-sleeved shirt to keep the sawdust in my nostrils and bra to a minimum. That said, to avoid tracking in a trail of shavings through the house, stripping down at the back door and jumping immediately into a hot shower does wonders!

Hope the neck feels better.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Um. Metaphor, anyone?

megan said...

Our new place has NO trees, haha. OK, 1 tree but no yard to speak of. Shut up, it's temporary. But I'll take it.
Upon Bubba's return: MASSAGE.

Jerri said...

"If you are averse to large stores of sawdust in your bra and nostrils, don't position yourself directly beneath the branch you are sawing."

My nostrils are shapely enough, but can we talk about that bra thing? Might have possiblities.

More welcome laughter here.

Deb Shucka said...

Would you come prune my trees? That's the only way I can think of to avoid all of your pitfalls, and since you're already a mess, I figure. . . .

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