The leafless trees bore the sun’s rays in flickering bursts, like an old movie projector.  Each fleeting image accumulating, until the sun appeared whole before sinking behind the horizon.


The weather has been somewhat atypical and wholly unpredictable.  The biting cold recently displaced by more moderate temperatures and rain has left us with a stunning lack of snow.  And while we have this respite, our thoughts turn again outdoors, more specifically to the landscape’s framework.


Dormant pruning is a common practice in Winter.  Because deciduous plants are leafless, it is easier to see the structure of the plant.  Further still, disease transmission and insect invasion is greatly reduced.  Before you get out the shears or pruners, read through the tips below for optimum, healthy results:


Have a Plan:

Get a good look at the plant.  Take a moment to study its shape and have a plan.  The idea is to maintain the natural shape of the plant.


Remove the Dead & Diseased:

Remove any dead, diseased or crossing branches regardless of their location within the plant.


Remove Suckers & Water Sprouts:

Remove all suckers and water sprouts.  Suckers are straight, unbranched stems that emerge from the base of the tree.  Water sprouts are similar to suckers, yet they grow at right angles to the branches.


Maintain Natural Shape of Plant:

Never limb up low branching trees.  Tall plants/shrubs should never be topped off in an effort to make them shorter.


Thin Canopies:

Thin the canopy of trees like Hawthorns and Crabapples by working from the center outwards.  Your goal is to increase air circulation.  Remember never to remove more than 1/4 of a plant.


Prune Back to Bud or Branch:

Always prune back to a bud or branch.  Never leave open ends and cut just above a bud.

Work Patiently:

Work slowly and patiently.  Step back between cuts to assess the shape and structure of the plant.


Dormant pruning is both essential and beneficial, and Winter allows us to better see the structure and form of the plant.  Reach out to Sweeney’s and schedule your Dormant Pruning today!

Plant of the Week


Dappled Willow

Graceful, deciduous shrub with weeping branches displays pinkish-red stems surrounded by white, green and pink mottled foliage.  Grows in a graceful mounding form 4-6′ tall and 4-6′ wide.  Prefers sun to partial shade and moist soil.  Will even tolerate wet soil.  Fast grower whose vibrant stems provide striking winter interest.

“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered within her heart.  She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger…”

– Hugh MacMillan

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney