Tree and Shrub Care

December

Redtwig dogwood DecemberLight pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can be done this month. Heavy pruning is best done in late winter or very early spring before buds break. Immediately prune back any branches damaged by snow and ice.

During periods of thaw, continue to water trees and shrubs, especially newly planted trees and all evergreens. Take advantage of thaw to water plants or garden areas that receive salt spray. The water will dilute the salt concentration absorbed by plant roots.

Continue to monitor for rodent or animal damage if this has been a problem in the past. Problems to look for include rubbings on tree trunks from young deer bucks and gnawed or stripped bark from lower trunk areas due to rabbits, mice, and voles. Creation of physical barriers such as deer netting, deer fencing, or hardware cloth tacked around tree trunks works more effectively than repellents.

In the event of heavy snows, remove snow loads from evergreen branches by gently sweeping snow off with a broom. Branches that have been anchored to the ground may be lifted gently from underneath with a broom. Avoid banging tree branches with any heavy tools.

Ice accumulation on tree branches should be allowed to melt. Avoid cracking ice with heavy objects.