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OKLAHOMA OUTSI DE


T H IS ‘N’ TH AT


My Winter Checklist W


By Allan Storjohann


inter has had a stronghold on our state for several weeks now, and my quota for chilly weather has just about been reached. I can’t wait for the leaves to pop back out and the blooms of spring to reappear. Right now, the view out our back window is vintage Oklahoma—lots of leafl ess branches, exposed bark and plenty of brown grass. Speaking of those leafl ess branches, right now is a wonderful time to evaluate which ones should be removed or trimmed back. To start with, I walk around my trees and identify branches that are dam- aged, irregular, diseased, growing in the wrong di- rection, or just too crowded among other branches. The next step is to remove the suckers, sprouts and undesirable limbs and branches with a pruning saw or lopping shear. It’s been my experience that most trees will require corrective pruning every year for the fi rst fi ve years, or until they have grown to


approximately 15 feet—and then you can let them grow out to develop their own unique form. I love to prune trees. It is time well spent, since a properly trained tree not only looks good, but will have fewer problems with wind, snow and ice damage as time goes by.


February often has a fair number of pretty nice days, allowing for a variety of gardening tasks and projects. Since we are talking about pruning, let me suggest you continue to walk around your territory and take stock of other plants that might need some trimming.


Many broadleaf shrubs such as boxwoods and


hollies will need to be sheared to keep them com- pact and shapely. Most of the time I end up creating a ball or cube when pruning the above plants—not sure exactly why, but they seem to end up that way. When it comes to narrow-leaf evergreens like the compact pfi tzer juniper or the gray owl juniper, I prefer to prune them very little and let their natural


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shape devel- op. I have al-


ways heard that the fi rst step to removing a landscape evergreen is to poodle it. That’s where the foliage is left only on the end of a branch. While it might look fun at fi rst, it actually becomes a main- tenance nightmare due to the fact that you end up with several balls of foliage to shape instead of just one plant. (Most of the time it gets cut down all the way in a few short years!) Spring fl owering shrubs like forsythia, spiraea, azalea and hydrangea should be left alone and only pruned after they fl ower. The summer fl owering shrubs like roses and crapemyrtle can be trimmed back to healthy branches now for strong new growth and maximum fl owering.


When the pruning is all done, you might do a


quick assessment of the overall look of the front and backyard landscape. Do you have enough ev-


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