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February 25, 2019

Best Winter Pruning Practices to Promote Spring Growth

An often-missed opportunity for beautifying the landscape in the winter months is deciduous shrub and tree pruning. As the colors of spring and summer fade into fall with each plant entering a state of dormancy, the plants are easily disregarded. This naturally occurring dormant stage of the plant provides the ideal conditions for pruning. Pruning is crucial to both plant health and aesthetics for a number of reasons. It helps to maintain size, shape, and form of overgrown plants but also to remove dead or diseased branching. The process of “thinning” or removing overgrowth opens the crown of the plant for more direct sunlight and air movement within. When performed correctly, this process results in a more vigorous spring growth and bloom of the plant.

Signs Your Shrubs or Trees Need Pruning

  • Garden beds are simply over run by deciduous shrubs
  • Branches are rubbing together or crossing
  • Insect egg masses or larvae are present
  • Open lesions or areas that look to be diseased are visible
  • Plant is visibly too big
  • Dead plant material


  • Consider the natural shape of the plant when determining what to remove
  • Never remove more than ⅓ of plant material from any one plant
  • Always leave a node or branch on the plant below each cut to ensure new growth during the growing season
  • Disinfect pruning tools to eliminate spreading disease
  • Remember that a successful prune may look as if you’ve done nothing at all
  • Winter! Winter! Winter! Take advantage of the seasonal dormancy and plan for the health of the plants.
April 13, 2017

Tips And Tricks For Waking Your Garden Up In April

Although we’ve been experiencing a snowy and cold spring here in Vermont, I’m sure April will be the month that comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. This means it’s finally time to open up the windows, get your boots on and start thinking about waking your garden up for the season.

There are a few simple steps to take in April, before planting time in May, that will make the season more successful and run smoother for you in the garden.

Take Stock Of and Sharpen Your Tools

This is a big one. Many of us hang our tools up in the garage or shed in November, forgetting about them until it’s time to cut back in the spring. Even before it’s time to use them, head out and evaluate the state of your tools. If there’s rust or your blades have become dull, use fine sandpaper to remove the rust and sharpen the tools with a 10” mill file. This entire process shouldn’t take longer than a half hour and will make your first day out in the garden much easier.

Evaluate Your Infrastructure

With the strong winds and heavy snow we’ve had this winter, April is the perfect time to head out into your property and evaluate your infrastructure. Did a part of your fence break and need repairing? Did your raised beds get damaged? Now is the time to fix all of these things in the garden before planting time.

Clean Up

Many of the trees on my property lost branches this winter, so I’m now going around and clearing them off the lawn. It’s one of the easiest ways to feel productive in the garden this time of year, I think.

Furthermore, if you didn’t get around to raking your leaves and picking them up, now is the time to add them to the compost pile or throw them in the woods! Your plants will want easy contact with the sun to start sprouting and thick layers of leaves and debris can prevent this. This is especially important to do around spring-blooming bulbs such as Grape Hyacinths, Daffodils, Tulips and more. Watch for flower tips at ground level and gently pull away twigs and large leaves from growth early, before the stem pops out of the ground.

Start Seeds Indoors

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and more inside for transplanting once there is no more chance of frost.

I also like to start some annuals like sunflowers, zinnia and more for a cheap way to create huge color in containers and for a longer bloom time with sunflowers. I plant my sunflower seedlings once there is no more chance of frost in a bed and then direct sow seeds with them.

Identify Areas That Could Use Extra Color

Early spring is a great time to evaluate your gardens from last season and identify areas that could use extra color. Annuals are a fantastic way to add easy, quick and long-lasting color to new perennial beds, containers, front walkways and everywhere in between!

So although April is still too early to plant or divide here in Vermont, there is plenty to do to get prepared and have a successful growing season. Plus, we’re all just excited to get outside this time of year!

Don’t have time to get your garden ready for spring or want to work with our designer to add annuals to your property? Contact us here