Time to Cut Back

How many times have you told
yourself, “It’s time to cut back”? Be it
food, computer/game time or whatever,
everything has its season. This is the
season to prune, prune, prune. The
roses, grasses, liriope (monkey grass),
shrubs and even trees will all benefit
from a few clips here and there. Most
roses need a good chopping to stimulate
new growth. The exceptions to the rule,
of course, are the climbing roses. If you
cut them now, you cut off the old wood
that brings the new blooms. Wait to trim
the climbers until after they bloom and
then cut them way back.

It is a bit easier to know when to cut
grasses. If they are brown, cut them to
the ground. Lantana also likes to start
over again. While it may look bare for
a short time, you will be rewarded with
lush, green growth as spring approaches.
I usually use a weed eater to trim border
grasses like mondo and liriope down to
one inch or so. As with pruning, it will
stimulate growth and blooms for the
coming season. Because this new growth
is tender and very susceptible to the late
hard freezes, it does not hurt to wait until
the end of February to do major chopping.

Trimming is important to maintaining
a healthy tree. All the little growth needs
to come out of the tree, as well as the
limbs that hang down. My rule of thumb
is that “suckers” smaller than my thumb
need to be removed, as well as limbs that
cross and rub. Choose a tree professional
to do the areas you cannot reach from
the ground. The key words are licensed
arborist. I use an arborist who will grind
the limbs and leaves into mulch for me.
This is a great way to return the natural
elements to the soil, and it does
not involve a trip to the store or
recycle station!

Cut back now for lush growth as the
weather warms up.

Written by Nancy Fenton, Master Gardener.