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Pruning tips for trees and shrubs

Homeowners typically spend lots of time caring for their property. Be it a modest ranch house or a mansion on top of a hill, a home's outside appearance is often a point of pride for homeowners.

One commonly overlooked element of an aesthetically appealing home is the role trees can play. Trees can add an element of beauty to a yard while also playing a practical role, such as shading the grass from intense summer sun and acting as great support for hanging a hammock.

While trees can add appeal to a homeowner's property, they can also be an eyesore if not properly pruned. Homeowners hoping to get the most out of their trees should consider some pruning guidelines.

*Fruit trees. If the buds on a fruit tree have already started swelling, you've waited too long too prune. In general, fruit trees are best pruned in late winter or early spring. When pruning, be sure to remove all branches growing inward as well as limbs growing straight up.

*Berry bushes. Berry bushes are typically pruned in late fall or early winter, once you have finished harvesting the berries. When pruning berry bushes, keep in mind the importance of shape with respect to a berry bush's aesthetic appeal.

*Rosebushes. Rosebushes are generally best pruned in late winter, with early spring the latest possible cutoff date. Remove any older shoots and leave between four and eight canes while removing any that are growing inward. When cutting them down, try to cut them to right around two feet above ground, and cut close to an inch above a bud or a strong shoot.

*Evergreen shrubs. Evergreen shrubs won't flower, but they can be pruned after they have produced cones or shrubs. That typically occurs between late winter and early spring, so this can be done as the weather begins to warm up as part of your early season spring cleanup.

*Evergreen trees. In general, evergreen trees do not need to be pruned. It's generally obvious when an evergreen does need to be pruned, as the tree will be noticeably larger and in obvious need of pruning. Evergreens that do need to be pruned typically need it in late spring or early summer, and they will likely not grow much after a good pruning.

*Deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are generally only pruned for shaping. For those looking to shape, mid to late winter is the ideal time to do so.

*Deciduous shrubs. Mid to late spring is often the best time to prune deciduous shrubs. That's generally after they have flowered, and it will be obvious when they are in need or pruning, as they will likely have lots of unsightly branches evident to the naked eye.

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