Most pruning can be done with three pieces of equipment. The
most used piece is a pair of bypass pruning shears. These shears
will cut up to about three-eighths inch comfortably, and they
make sharp cuts that don't tear or crush. There are still
anvil-type shears available, but their use is mainly in
vineyards to girdle grapevine ends. The second piece of
equipment is a bypass lopper. Loppers can cut up to about
1.5-inch wood, depending on the type and size. If you have the
money, a good set of compound action loppers would be a good
investment. The third piece of equipment is a pruning saw. These
can come in several shapes, sizes and price ranges. For smaller
limbs, a folding or straight pruning saw is a good buy. For
larger limbs, a bow saw may be needed. The maneuverability and
ease of use are key points when selecting a saw.
The time of year we prune various trees and shrubs is
important. Most trees and shrubs that aren't flowering in nature
should be pruned between December and mid-March. Flowering trees
and shrubs should be done after they flower. Evergreens are best
pruned in late June. With oak wilt in the area, oaks should be
pruned in December to lessen sap flow, which attracts
virus-carrying beetles. And, any branch that hits you in the
face when you are mowing should be cut off immediately (except
on those oak trees)!
Basic pruning should serve to remove poor branches, keep the
plant growing aggressively and do a little bit with shaping a
plant. Poor branches mean bad angles from a trunk or main
branch, dead branches, branches that rub together, or multiple
leaders. As far as keeping a plant growing aggressively,
remember that pruning is a rejuvenation process. Regular pruning
also produces more 2-year-old wood that produces fruit on fruit
trees and flowers on flowering trees and shrubs. Minor shaping
and sizing are possible, but major changes probably mean a
different plant should be selected.
When making a pruning cut, the key is to cut back to
something. Branch tips can be cut back to a bud, and entire
branches can be cut back to another branch or the main trunk.
When making the cut to a branch or trunk, cut to the edge of the
collar -- about one-sixteenth of an inch from the other branch.
Cutting too close to the other branch destroys the
water-carrying tissue, and leaving a stub will guarantee a
rotten branch stub, which will eventually rot into the main
branch or trunk. If you are making cuts on large branches, it is
best to cut once about 18 inches from the main branch, then make
a second cut to leave the one-sixteenth-inch collar. This will
help prevent the cut branch from tearing other branches.
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Topping a tree lessens weight and reduces size for a short period
of time. Within five years of topping, you will generally have more
weight and growth than you would have had without topping.
Hopefully these basic pruning hints will help you get started on
the right foot. Remember the golden rule of pruning: "If you think
you've cut out too much, you're probably about right."
They aren't the "monsters of the deep," but it certainly seems
like it to hear some people talk about them. The "them" is the Asian
ladybugs. Each day we get a little bit of sun, or slightly warmer
temperatures, we have a few more break dormancy and find their way
into your coffee cup or inside your reading light.
We had a tremendous buildup of the adult beetles last fall,
mainly to prey on the soybean aphids present just before harvest.
Then the soybeans died, causing the soybean aphids to die as well.
Looking for more food, the ladybugs found their way to your house.
There they sought shelter to overwinter, and warmth brings a few of
them back to the active status each day. One of these days we will
be overwhelmed when the temperatures are warm and the sun shines
As for what to do, inside the house you suck them up with a
vacuum, pick up with toilet paper and flush accordingly, or use the
swatter. Larger problems can be helped somewhat with a flying insect
spray in an aerosol can to take out the ones it hits. No-pest strips
can be used in areas such as three-season porches where you aren't
spending much time now, but don't use them in areas you frequent.
Area sprays on the sides of garages and so forth will be effective
soon. You'll still have plenty of the invaders, but you might feel
better after getting revenge on their relatives.
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]