It is certainly beginning to look like spring is on its way, and with that comes spring chores, such as pruning. Generally, it is still a little too early to prune, as you want to wait, until the buds on deciduous trees and shrubs begin to swell. What can be done now, is getting your tools ready, so that when the time comes, you are ready to prune. Maintenance is important to ensure that tools last a long time as well as doing the job properly. Pruners, should be oiled, and disinfected, to ensure that diseases are not carried from one tree/shrub to another. (When pruning trees that have diseased branches, dip the pruners in a beach solution after each cut to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the tree.) Sharpen the pruners, saws, etc., so that when you prune, the cuts are clean, with no rough edges. Having the right equipment helps when it comes to pruning. If you are purchasing new pruning equipment, look for high-quality tools that will last for years, and give good results. A good pair of high quality hand pruners is a must, as these can cut branches up to 2.5 cm thick. Lopping shears or long handles pruners are good for branches up to 3 cm and for those heavier branches that are up to 5 cm, the heavier duty, double action and ratchet types are good. Branches that are 5 cm or larger, should be removed by using a pruning saw. Also available for those high branches, are the long handles loppers as well as the saws and pruners with the adjustable extendable handles.
Pruning is one chore that needs to be done on time, and another chore that is essential in a deciduous tree/shrubs health is applying ‘Lime Sulphur and Dormant Oil’, to the bark of the tree/shrub. It can be used on all deciduous shade trees, fruit trees, small fruits (raspberries, hascap, currants,etc.), flowering ornamental shrubs and roses. Its a good idea to have it on hand now, because there is a small time frame of when it can be applied and the conditions have to be right. It can only be applied in early spring before the tree/shrub breaks into leaf, (it has to be dormant) and the weather has to be dry and above freezing, for a certain length of time. Always read the instructions before using any product. This combination spray kills many overwintering insects such as aphids and mites, by smothering the eggs, and aids in preventing the spread of fungal spores that lead to disease. It will not affect migrating insects including the beneficial ones that migrate to the tree after it has been sprayed.
Lime Sulphur and Dormant Oil, is sold as a combination pack in the garden centre. The bottle of Lime Sulphur is twice the size of the Horticultural oil, because when you mix the two together, you mix 1 part oil to 2 parts Lime Sulphur and then the water. Only mix what you are going to use, and use it immediately after it has been mixed because it will separate. Any type of sprayer will work, and when you spray, start from the top of the tree/shrub and work down, making sure that all the surfaces are covered. When spraying, wear protective clothing and be careful when spraying near pavement and structures as this product can cause stains.
It wont be long before we can get outdoors, so being prepared will help in getting the job done right and on time. If you are interested in learning more about pruning, Art Knapps will be holding its annual pruning clinics on the March 19-20 weekend.