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Pesticide Free Tip: Prune now to prevent pests

by Sydney Boogaard

Winter is coming to a close as we begin to pack away our heavy coats and gloves. We may be sad to see the skis go back into the basement, but soon we’ll bring out the mountain bikes and hiking shoes. And as the temperature begins to rise we can head back into our gardens and yards.

Tree budding

Our trees and plants have been snoozing the winter away and it is time for them to wake back up. Just like us, our trees are a little groggy and sleepy, from their long nap. The harsh elements of the winter have damaged and weakened their branches and stems. This makes them even more susceptible to pest invasion. Nonetheless, with a little tender loving care we can help rejuvenate our trees, keeping them strong, happy, healthy and pesticide free.

Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Check out our resource guide for tips and visit our past blogs on organic landscaping to get started.

Proactive care is key

  • Inspect for pest assaults; browning veins, colorful clumps, chewed leaves, silky looking spider webs, and black mold fungi.
  • Remove dead, dying, diseased, or infested branches. This helps prevent insects from entering your trees or further infiltration.
  • Don’t prune when plants are wet; this can facilitate the spread of disease.
  • If you want to be extra cautious, rinse your tools with water and soup after each cut to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Thin your trees canopy to allow increase of air flow and sunlight, inhibits future disease.
  • Remove branches that rub together, avoiding damage or splitting.
  • If there are two dominant leading branches (large branches growing near the top of the canopy), cut the smaller of the two. This allows one of the leaders to become the dominant branch.
Photo of tree in bloom.

Prune For Safety 

Pruning not only helps your trees flourish, it helps ward off pests and diseases.  Pruning is also a good safety practice. Eliminate branches that are low hanging any place that could injure people or property. If there are branches interfering with streetlights or utility lines, contact our local electric utility. Rocky Mountain Power  should be called if you’re pruning near overhead electrical lines.

Timing

The best time to prune is during late winter, just before spring growth begins. This ensures the shortest amount of time for wounds to be open. Additionally, it is easier to make pruning decisions without the obstruction of leaves, and pruning too late into the spring can cause diseases of its own kind.

How to prune

Begin by inspecting your trees from top to bottom, map out a plan of where and why certain branches will be trimmed. Then make sure to have the correct pruning tools: pruning shears, loppers, hedge shears, pruning saws, and pole pruner. You should be able to find these at any local gardening or hardware shop. Keep your gear clean with water and soap to prevent the spread of disease.

Pruning can be scary — it is, after all, creating a wound on your tree. But when performed correctly it is truly beneficially. Once a branch is cut, it will not grow back. The tree will heal itself and grow a callus at the wound site.

You want to make sure the cut is nice and clean with no jagged edges. Never remove more than ¼ of the tree’s canopy in a single season. The tree should have a single trunk and one dominant leader.  Before you prune for appeal, first remove the diseased limbs. You should cut just outside the branch ridge and collar. If the branch is too small or young to have form a collar, cut close and never leave a stub.

These tips will not only keep your trees looking and growing their best, you’ll also keep them healthy, which helps them naturally fight off pests.

Photo of beautiful garden with hexagonal pesticide free yard sign.

Pledge to be Pesticide Free!

Here at SLCgreen we hope these tips on checking for disease, pest infestation, and pruning will ensure a hearty start to your growing season. Proactive care is essential for a healthy and pesticide free yard.

During this year’s growing season we will continue to post tips and tricks on when and how to prep your lawn and garden without the harmful use of pesticides and fertilizers.

We hope you will take the pledge and make a commitment to our health, environment, and ecosystems.

You will also get an attractive yard sign as a symbol of your commitment.  We expect it will also serve as an inspiration to others in your neighborhood to ask and learn more– and hopefully make their own Pesticide Free pledge.

We’ve compiled a guide with helpful to guidelines help you take the pledge with confidence!

Spread the word! Share this post on social media and use the hashtag #PesticideFreeSLC  .

Talk to your friends and neighbors about how and why they can phase out pesticides!

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