Tips on How to Properly Prune Hydrangea

Tips on How to Properly Prune Hydrangea

This time of year many people want to know the best way to prune hydrangeas. How and when to prune strongly depends on the hydrangea species. Therefore, you should first understand the type of hydrangea you have to ensure health and maximum blooms.

blue hydrangea

Bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla) is one of the most common. This group is often known as mophead, lacecaps or French hydrangeas. Bigleaf hydrangea bloom on one-year-old wood. With that in mind, prune these plants within four to six weeks after blooming. To rejuvenate these plants, prune by selectively thinning out old stems. You should remove no more than one quarter to one third of the older stems each year. In addition, you can reduce long stems and branches to shape the plant. Further, oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) also blooms on old wood. Therefore, you should prune it in the same manner.

pruning hydrangea
Before pruning hydrangea, be sure to know what species you have.

Do not prune bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangea heavily during late summer or in early spring. Pruning during this time period will reduce blooms as it removes the flower buds for the next cycle.

In comparison, panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata), which include pee gee hydrangea, and smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) bloom on new wood in mid to late summer. Prune these species in winter or early spring. They can tolerate severe reduction.

For smooth hydrangea, including the common cultivar ‘Annabelle,’ some prefer to prune the plant nearly to the ground in winter or early spring. Panicle hydrangeas can also withstand this type of pruning. The exception is when you have trained the plant into a tree form. To maintain as a tree form, thin the plant to remove crossing and conflicting branches and selectively reduce to maintain desired size and shape.

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The Importance of Trimming Your Trees

Making sure that your property is taken care of appropriately is more than just mowing the lawn and watering the flowerbeds. The trees under your care more than likely require regular trimming, and it’s for more important reasons than merely aesthetic ones (although that’s certainly a bonus). Simply put, the proper trimming of your trees is an issue of safety for your home, yourself, and your loved ones.When to trim a tree

To start, certain branches need to be singled out and cut back. Branches that are dying or are starting to show signs of weakness should be trimmed. If they die completely and are broken off by a high wind or other in climate weather, the falling branch could hit someone underneath. If the branch is hanging over a utility cable connected to the home, it could pull the line down. The branch could also break through a window, damage a roof, an automobile parked underneath, or any other number of expensive occurrences.

Aside from the safety issues, removing the dead or dying branches can actually make the tree healthier. If the branch has contracted a disease, severing the limb can end up saving the tree itself and stop the spreading problem.

Trees should be trimmed annually, as recommended by the Department of Agriculture. However, it is important to note that trimming some trees can be dangerous. Consult with a professional in case a tree on your property requires trimming for one of the following reasons:

  • The tree blocks visibility
  • Branches have already broken off or partially dropped onto utility cables
  • The tree presents an obvious danger to you, your home, or your property

If you are in Passaic County in New Jersey, please feel free to contact Big Foot Tree Service if you feel that one of your trees meets the criteria above.

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How To Prune an Apple Tree in Winter

Tree pruning preservation cut

Prevent your apple trees from growing unshapely and severely weakened by an overcrowded crop. Knowing how winter pruning can benefit your apple tree will help you keep it growing healthy for generations. gathered the following information about winter pruning for your apple trees, some crucial tips about apple tree pruning, and the outcome this pruning may have on your apple tree.

How To Prune Your Apple Tree

Any time you set out to prune any tree, there are some guidelines to follow that help you protect the tree’s health while encouraging its shapely and vigorous growth.

Sterilize Pruning Equipment – Every time you bring out the loppers, pruning shears, hand saws, and anything else that will make contact with your tree should be sterilized with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water. If you are pruning between multiple trees, your equipment should be cleaned and sterilized between each tree.

Tip: When pruning multiple trees, fill a spray bottle with the bleach and water mixture and sterilize your equipment as needed.

Always Prune with a Plan – Before you start pruning, ask yourself if you need to prune and if you can prune at a more appropriate time.

Tip: When a tree (of any species) has been neglected and not pruned for multiple growing seasons, do not remove more than 1/3 of the tree. Spread the pruning out over several growing seasons to get it fully pruned back and into good shape. If more than 1/3 of the tree must be removed, hire a professional tree service to supervise or conduct this pruning activity.

Pruning Cuts – Using sharp, sanitized tools, you’ll want to make the cleanest cuts possible. Here are how some of these cuts are made:

Removing a full branch will require you to make a calculated “three-cut” removal.
Cut 1, known as the undercut,

Tree pruning the undercut keeps bark from tearing if th branch slips out of your control

it happens approximately 6 inches from the trunk from the bottom up, severing 1/3 of the branch. This cut prevents the bark from stripping if the branch falls before finishing the removal.

Tree pruning preservation cut number 2

Cut 2, is a top, down cut approximately 6 to 8 inches further out from the undercut and removes the bulk of the branch.

Cut 3, is a top, down cut flush with the branch collar, taking care to avoid damaging the branch collar.

Tree pruning preservation cut number 3 fixing any mishaps from previous cuts

When tipping a branch or cutting away a diseased portion but not the entire branch, find an outward-facing bud before making your pruning cut. Cut at a 45-degree angle about ¼ inch away from the bud. New growth will emerge from the bud in the next growing season.

Why Prune in Winter?

There are several reasons one may prefer to prune apple trees in the winter. Here are some of those reasons:

You can see a tree’s defects and poor growth
Cutting/Pruning is safer since most diseases and insects are dormant as well
Remove crossing/rubbing branches which can become vectors for insect infestations and disease, or both
Competing branches are more easily detected and removed

Tip: If your apple tree is lacking the lower branches that are good on an apple tree, you can entice them to grow out. Find a bud, and use a knife to make nicks about a millimeter above and below the bud. Then cut the notch between the nicks completely out, cutting through the bark and the green layer beneath it. This will force the tree to grow a new branch at that location.

Note: Your fruit trees should be pruned every year, during the dormant or winter period. If you don’t begin proper pruning early in the tree’s life, the result will likely be “alternate bearing,” or that one year’s harvest will be bountiful while the following year’s will be small. Pruning is necessary to open up the tree canopy to sunlight and air circulation and promote fruit production and a healthy plant. Follow these tips to pruning your apple tree so you can reap a bountiful harvest consistently.

Pruning or Thinning Fruit

During growing seasons with exceptional weather conditions, apple trees may produce a bumper crop or overabundance of fruit. This may cause fruit “crowding” on the branches and result in smaller-sized apples.

You can grow uncrowded, tasty, and normal-sized apples. It may be necessary to thin out the fruit. Fruit should be spaced about 6 inches apart along the branches; thin out closely grown apples remove the smaller-sized ones in favor of the larger fruits.

Winter Apple Tree Pruning

In this article, you discovered helpful information about pruning your apple trees during the winter season and how these pruning activities can influence your apple tree’s growth and fruit production.

Pruning and caring for your apple trees from an early age will create a consistently repeating annual harvest, help keep your trees healthy, and reduce your tree’s susceptibility to insect infestation.

Without proper winter pruning activities, your apple trees could wind up riddled with insects, diseased, and dying.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove

So, you have a stump on your property. Maybe the tree was too close to your driveway, or maybe it was diseased and had become a safety hazard. For whatever reason, your tree is now gone and all you have left is a stump and roots. Like many folks, you want to be rid of this eyesore, but how? You might be thinking you want to remove the stump entirely, but, in reality, stump grinding is likely your best option.

Keep reading for answers to common questions about why and how you should to remove a tree stump.

Why should I care about the stump?

Stumps begin their slow process of decay very shortly after they’re separated from the tree that was once in your yard. This means that a rotting stump will quickly become home to home-damaging pests like termites or carpenter ants.

While you can opt to leave the stump and let it rot, the critters that are involved in that process might spread out to other plants and trees in your yard, or even invade your home. Removing the stump, or grinding it down, is the best way to avoid these pest problems.

You should also consider getting rid of your stump because:

  • The stump can get in the way of mowing and other yard care, and just takes up space in your yard
  • The stump and its roots make it hard for new trees, plants, and shrubs planted nearby to succeed
  • A rotting, decaying stump just looks bad

What’s the difference between grinding and removal, exactly?

Stump removal entails not only extracting the stump from your yard, but also all of the roots attached to it. As a result, you’ll need some seriously heavy-duty equipment—and, since the tree’s roots have probably spread out through much of your yard, you may end up doing some intensive labor and damaging your yard in the process. Generally speaking, full stump removal is only useful if you’re clearing a lot or otherwise don’t mind collateral damage or how the final product looks.

On the other hand, stump grinding is a simpler, more manageable route for homeowners to take, because it doesn’t involve pulling out every single tree root. As you might surmise, stump grinders grind down the stump, essentially shaving down the remainder of the tree until it’s sawdust. So, having your stump ground down will leave your yard with a hole, but one that is much smaller and more contained than with stump removal. 

So, should I grind or remove the stump in my yard?

Stump grinding and stump removal both come with their pros and cons. Choosing which route is best for you mainly depends on what you plan to do with the landscape afterwards, as well as how much time and money you’re willing to invest in the project.


As mentioned above, the stump removal process is the more intrusive process of the two. It involves heaving up the bulky tree stump with a winch, hydraulic jack, or tractor, and then digging out all the tree’s widespread roots. 

Obviously, removing the tree stump gets it all out of your yard, completely. Even if you grind the stump down several inches below the surface, the roots are still there and may cause issues with planting or with installing yard fixtures down the road. Complete removal solves this problem, and removes the risk of re-sprouting or rotting.

Removal also opens the possibility of planting a new tree in the same spot as the old one. It leaves a hole full of rich, clean soil that’s optimal for tree growth, and without old roots that could hinder your new tree’s growth. If you had to remove a favorite tree due to disease or decay, removal is a great option that allows you to plant a replacement. 

However, stump removal has a few drawbacks; mainly, it takes much more time, money, and effort than grinding a stump. Of course, the duration depends on how large and deep the stump and its roots are, but if you need the work done ASAP, stump removal may not be your best option. 

Stump removal can comparatively be quite costly as well, not only due to the duration of the project, but because stump removal is an astoundingly strenuous and costly process. This is due to the fact that the roots of a tree often represent more than 30% of a tree’s biomass. Even a half-inch root can require hundreds of pounds of force to pull from the soil, and an extensive root system can demand much more. 

If the stump is in a lot you’re clearing or an area where you don’t care about aesthetics, this last point probably won’t apply to you. But if the stump is in your yard or some place where aesthetics matter, cleaning up from a total stump removal involves even more work. Filling in the hole left in the ground and hauling the massive, cumbersome stump away can be a project in and of itself.

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove


To grind a stump, our arborists use a groundsaw machine to completely shred the stump down into small woodchips or sawdust that can then be easily removed. The machine can grind the stump to ground level, or it can grind the stump as low as one foot below ground level to create a hole you can then fill in. 

Grinding a stump is much faster and more efficient than removing it. The whole process typically takes less than two hours, and doesn’t leave much work for afterwards. The pile of chips or sawdust left behind are a quick clean-up, and are well worth the effort because you can use them for other purposes around your home and yard. 

Additionally, the hole left behind will be either non-existent or much smaller than with full removal. Filling in this small hole will also be much easier than the labor involved with filling in the giant hole from a fully removed stump and its huge roots. Many people are happy to find themselves relieved of doing or paying for this extra work.

Grinding a stump tends to be cheaper than removing it. This is, of course, because complete removal is a much more labor-intensive and time-consuming process and requires heavy-duty machines with greater power demands. Often, our customers in Memphis would rather go with this more economical option and put their savings towards other landscaping projects. 

Of course, stump grinding does create a bit of a mess in your yard with the sawdust or wood chips that are created during the grinding process. Since complete stump removal can be messy in its own way (a gaping hole and clods of soil strewn about your yard), you’ll need to weigh the costs and benefits of each technique as you decide between the two. 

By leaving the roots in the ground, you open your yard up to the risk of sprouting, which is when the old roots send up small new shoots. If you don’t want new trees in that area, fresh sprouts can be quite a hassle to deal with. The roots can also rot and decay under the earth, which is a natural and important process that nourishes the local ecosystem, but some homeowners and business owners may not want decaying matter and the associated fungi, bugs, and so on in their yard.

Stumps: When To Grind And When To Remove

Take care of stumps and your yard with Red’s Tree Service

Generally speaking, stump grinding is the better option for residential and commercial stump removers. It’s faster, cheaper, and less damaging to the surrounding yard than complete removal. However, stump removal has its own benefits, including the fact that it gets the whole tree and roots out in one fell swoop, thereby clearing space for new plantings.

If you want a stump ground down or removed from your yard, or advice on which would be best for your purposes, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Red’s Tree Removal! We’ll be happy to assess your situation and give you only the best advice and service. Happy stumping!

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Codominant Stems and Reducing Tree Failures

Research shows that trees with multiple (codominant) stems have a higher likelihood of failure than those with a single stem so it is important to address this trait – the earlier, the better. To explain, codominant stems occur when two or more stems grow upward from a single point. This creates a v-shaped crotch that typically indicates a structural issue.

codominant stem
A codominant stem with a “V” crotch.

Tree trunks need wood tissue to hold the tree up, particularly in windy conditions. When codominant stems exist, there is less direct connection of this wood tissue, creating a weak point in the tree that is more likely to fail. In some cases, bark on the side facing the other stem is captured in between the stems (included bark or bark inclusion). Generally, this makes the attachment even weaker.

included bark
Included bark is clearly visible on the right stem.

Preventing Codominant Stems in Young Trees

The best way to prevent codominant stems is to prune the tree while it is young. Start a year or two after planting and continue as the tree grows. Structurally pruning a tree several times while it is growing can nearly eliminate this problem. It is important to realize that it costs far less to prune a small tree than to treat a large tree with codominant stems.

What is Structural Pruning?

In the forest, trees tend to crowd each other. As they race upward for sunlight in the sky, they usually maintain a single main stem. Alternatively, when trees grow uncrowded in a landscape, they often develop structural weaknesses like codominant stems. Structural pruning is the technique used to address these weaknesses and guide trees into a strong architecture/form. The objective is to create a strong, healthy structure so that trees are sturdier under wind and other conditions.

With structural pruning, live leaders and lateral limbs are “subordinated,” or reduced, to slow their growth. Consequently, the main stem can develop dominance again. The sooner in life that structural pruning is started, the easier and less costly it is. Waiting until the tree is mature frequently means bigger pruning cuts, cabling and greater expense.

Solutions for Mature Trees

For mature trees, structural pruning may no longer always be the best option. Some issues that have developed over years simply cannot be addressed through pruning at this point. More likely, when a codominant stem is present on a mature tree, a structural support system will be a better option. Structural support systems are steel cables or steel rods that are installed between the codominant stems. These systems reduce movement and improve wind resistance.

Whatever age your tree, codominant stems are a structural problem that you should address. Early pruning and support systems are two methods of increasing the strength and longevity of your trees.

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Tips For Winterizing Your Trees

The trees in your yard can always benefit from your attention and care. With winter coming, trees can be “winterized” to lessen the chance of cold weather damage.

First, prune (cut off) any dead or broken limbs you see on the tree. Ideally, you should make a 45-degree angle cut in the limb about six inches from the break or dead portion of the limb. If any branches are close to touching the ground, prune them so they won’t touch the ground when rain or snow would weigh them down and/or invite pests onto the tree. If you notice any deadwood or damaged branches, twigs and/or bark, get rid of them.

Next, before the ground freezes, it’s a smart idea to purposely water the tree at least once a week in order to hydrate the roots really well. You can also spread fertilizer around the base if you so choose. If the soil around the tree is compacted or poorly drained, take a rake to it, therefore aerating the soil.

If it’s a small tree, or newly planted tree, consider adding “tree wrapping tape” around the trunk, which will help insulate it against sun scalding.

Spread six inches of wood chip mulch around the base of the tree to help protect the roots from the coming cold weather.

If you have evergreens, you can cover them with burlap, or, better yet, spray them with an “anti-dessicant,” which puts a waxy coat on a tree’s leaves and needles, sealing moisture in.

Should you have any specific questions regarding tree care and maintenance, don’t hesitate to call New Jersey’s Big Foot Tree Service today at 973-885-8000.

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Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

Have you looked out your window and realized that your trees are looking a little… well, shaggy? If so, you’re not alone, as millions of Americans hire professionals every year for tree trimming and pruning. Trees can make the outside of your home beautiful, and having trees in your yard may create opportunities for a shaded lounge area, a place to hang a tire swing and somewhere to build a treehouse, but maintaining them is an important part of protecting and maintaining your property. It may seem easy enough to grab your ladder and some shears and get to work, but there are a lot of concerns to consider before you begin your tree-trimming career! These details will help you make an informed decision about properly trimming your trees, so read on to learn everything you need to know about tree trimming. 

Why should I care about trimming my trees?

Whether your home is surrounded by hundred-year-old trees or you have just a few smaller trees that you need to service, you may be wondering about the benefits of regular tree trimming. Trees need to be trimmed or pruned regularly, and sometimes branches must be entirely cut off to help ensure the health of the tree and your family’s safety. 

There are many reasons tree trimming can be a vital part of yard maintenance. According to the US Department of Agriculture, trees should be pruned first for safety, next for health, and finally for aesthetics. Let’s look at each of these benefits:


The safety of your family and the security of your property and that of your neighbors is a key reason why people choose to trim their trees. If you notice that a tree has a decayed or dying limb, there is always a possibility that the limb could fall during a storm and cause damage to your home or property—or that of your neighbors. 

A quick trim may cost a bit, but it will be much less than the liability that you would face if a tree limb fell into your neighbor’s home! 

Tree (and yard) health

Cutting dead or diseased branches may help benefit the overall health of the tree. In addition, pruning may also encourage your trees to develop stronger core structures to help withstand the elements.

Pruning or trimming a tree also allows you to reduce the possibility that dead or decayed material in the branches could be shifted to other trees that are healthy. Another reason many people trim the trees on their property is to allow more sunlight to filter through to the ground. This helps to reduce the overall possibility of mold and mildew by drying up the ground and allowing the plants underneath the tree to receive the sunlight and nutrients that they need to grow successfully.


Trimming a tree may help accentuate its physical appearance and improve flower or fruit production. You may even find that cutting back some extra tree growth will add to your home’s curb appeal and really showcase your home and yard. 

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

How often should I trim my trees?

Generally, you should prune or trim trees about once a year during their dormant season, which can vary depending on the species of your tree. However, circumstances such as these may prompt an immediate trimming:

  • The tree’s growth obstructs visibility for pedestrians or vehicles, especially at intersections.
  • The tree’s limbs interfere with power lines. Make sure to contact your local utility company to handle the job, as it’s dangerous to even get close to power lines.
  • The tree’s growth may threaten your home or property. If you feel a tree needs to be pruned because it may cause damage to your home, or causes safety concerns, it’s important to contact an arborist to help with the trimming.

How can I safely trim my trees?

Your first priority when trimming, pruning, or cutting a tree should be personal safety. The best way to help ensure safety is to hire a qualified arborist service like Red’s Tree Service to clip back your trees. Trimming may often require a ladder and sometimes puts the trimmer in close proximity to power lines, and the safest course of action is to leave tree-trimming to the professionals.

However, if you do decide to trim your own trees, here are our safety recommendations to help you determine if it’s safe or not to cut the branches:

  • Branches smaller than 2 inches (or 5 centimeters) in diameter: Proceed.
  • Branches between 2 and 4 inches (or 5 and 10 centimeters) in diameter: Think it over.
  • Branches larger than 4 inches (or 10 centimeters): Contact an arborist.

In circumstances of extreme weather, like rain, snow, or even wind, do not trim any tree, as it can place excess stress on the tree and poses an extreme safety hazard to you and your property.

If you do decide to try trimming your trees yourself, here is a 3-step program you can follow:

  1. Make the very first cut about 1-2 feet from the trunk of the tree. This cut starts underneath the limb and goes into it, but only about a third of the way. This is a critical step in the process.
  2. Make the second cut just outside of the first cut, about another foot or two. This cut will be all the way through the branch. The branch is highly likely to break away as you saw through the limb, which is ok. Since you have made the first cut on the underside and closer in from the previous step, the bark will not continue to tear down into the tree trunk.
  1. The final cut is right at the branch collar where the branch meets the tree’s trunk. You will be looking for a flared area here. Make the final cut so that the flair is still noticeable afterward. 

If cut properly, this “flair” will heal over, eventually filling in with new bark and scar tissue. You’ll know the tree is healing correctly when you see a “doughnut” forming where you made the cut. And that is all there is to it!

Once again, if you have any doubt in your ability to properly assess the situation and conduct the pruning, call Red’s Tree Service. Our team has experience and expertise, and can complete the job in a safe and fast manner.

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

Keep your trees trim and happy with Red’s Tree Service!

The friendly, expert team at Red’s Tree Service understands exactly what techniques to employ and what branches to remove so that you are left with the healthiest, best-looking tree possible.

We also understand tree trimming can be a nerve-racking and intimidating experience, especially if you have a tall tree that needs trimming. Don’t risk getting hurt. Reach out to us today to request an estimate or schedule service.

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Choosing a Tree for Your Landscape

Mistakes are easy to make when choosing a tree. Most of these are related to misinformation regarding a tree’s size when full grown. It’s also common to see mishaps like full-sun plants tucked into shady corners.

Planting a tree should be fun and exciting. Unfortunately, mistakes ultimately often lead to disappointment. Planning and careful consideration are not only necessary at the time of planting, but before as well. A successful tree planting starts with the right tree.

choosing the right tree

Advance planning, before you even visit the nursery, will help ensure you choose the right tree.

Planting Goal

With so many choices about species, size, cost and other factors, it’s easy to get bogged down before you even get to the most important question. Prior to making any decisions, the first thing to ask is, “what is my goal in planting a tree?” Some typical tree planting goals are improving privacy, beautifying the landscape (flowers, etc), increasing shade, or establishing a family heirloom. Establish a goal and you will have an easier time making a choice about the best tree.

Location, Location, Location

Similar to success in real estate, success with tree planting a tree is all about the right location. The tree needs to have enough physical room to develop. Additionally, the spot chosen should have the right amount of sunlight or shade as well as proper soil conditions. Understanding the size and requirements of the tree as well as the conditions it will grow in will further narrow your selection.

Additional Considerations

If you live in a rural area with a lot of deer, you’ll need to consider a tree that is resistant to deer browsing. Further, seasonality could be important to you. Maybe you’re looking for an evergreen so that you have year-round color or want a tree that has brilliant red leaves in autumn. Perhaps you’d like a tree that flowers during late summer, or one that provides food for birds, squirrels, pollinators and other wildlife. Accordingly, these secondary benefits can inform your choice of tree depending on your priorities.

After Planting

When planting, remember that regular watering is vital for new trees. Removing wire baskets and any cording around the trunk (if balled and burlapped) will help deter long-term health issues related to poor root structure and girdling. Be sure to review our tree planting tips.

Lastly, the job of tree care doesn’t end with the planting. Many newly planted trees die within the first few years after planting. As such, caring for your young tree in those early years is critical to survival. Controlling pests and ensuring adequate soil nutrition are particularly important as your new tree attempts to become established.

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What Should Be Pruned in the Fall?

Fall pruning to remove storm damage and dangerous growth

Prevent your shrubs and trees from becoming diseased and dying due to untimely fall pruning. Knowing when to prune your plants, shrubs, and trees in the fall will help you keep them thriving. gathered the following information about the heightened risks of pruning activities performed during fall months.

The Risk of Early Fall Pruning

It is not advised to conduct ANY pruning activities in early fall. All pruning activities encourage new plant growth. When these activities occur in early fall (when the tree or plant is starting to go dormant), any new growth won’t have enough time to harden before the first frost and freezing temperatures set in. This tender new growth, damaged by freezing weather, can become a vector for infestations and disease.

Why Fall Pruning Is Discouraged

The dangers of early fall pruning include:

Disease – As the seasons change from summer to fall, rainfall is typically increased, creating a moist or wet environment that promotes the growth and spreading of disease-causing bacteria and fungi.

Infestation – Like disease infections, insect infestations are supported by a moist or wet environment. These conditions delay a tree or plant’s ability to heal pruning wounds.

Off-Season Growth – As mentioned, pruning encourages growth. Pruning a tree or plant before dormancy can result in tender growth that becomes a vector for disease and infestation (when damaged by freezing weather).

Tip: Put your pruning shears away for another couple of months and allow your trees and plants to go completely dormant. Once dormancy has settled in (after all the leaves have dropped), you can safely prune trees and shrubs.

Note: If you must perform fall pruning, wait for your tree, shrub, or plant to go completely dormant. This “fall” window of opportunity is generally between the Thanksgiving and New Year holidays. However, if you can wait, late winter (late February) pruning is far less risky.

Fall Pruning Exceptions

There are exceptions when pruning should occur in the fall like storm damage and dangerous growth

Some situations arise, demanding immediate pruning activities. While most of these apply to trees, large or overgrown shrubs may require similar attention. Be on the lookout for the following:

Overhanging or Dangerous Growth – When trees or large shrubs grow over a structure or lean in that direction, they can cause great concern. This is true, especially in regions prone to severe weather.

The solution to this predicament is to prune back the limbs or branches causing the concern or to remove the tree or shrub, eliminating the threat altogether.

Dead Limbs or Branches – For all plant life, dead wood represents an easy entryway for disease and insect infestation. In fact, dead limbs or branches may result from a disease or infestation and should be investigated.

This dead wood should be removed upon discovery, regardless of the season or circumstance.

Storm Damage – Severe weather events seemingly occurring more frequently and consequently causing sometimes catastrophic damages to trees, shrubs, and plants.

When you detect storm damage in your trees, shrubs, and plants, you should take immediate action to remove the damaged wood and prune back limbs that have snapped or broken off (eliminating rough or uneven surfaces). Handling storm-damaged trees is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Minor damages can be resolved, but for more extensive damages, hire a professional tree service to help you sort out what can be salvaged and what is a threat and needs removing.

Plants and Shrubs That Should Be Pruned in the Fall

While the overall intent of this publication is to discourage fall/autumn pruning, the following species of plants and shrubs benefit from fall pruning:

  • Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Bellflowers (Campanula)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Coneflowers (Rudbeckia)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
  • Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  • Salvia (Salvia spp.)
Fall pruning should be done to specific plant species including daylilies

Counter to the standard, these above plant species do require fall pruning. However, to be more informed, read when should I prune trees and discover best practices of tree pruning?

Generally speaking, plants hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9 will need fall pruning.

No shrub species require fall pruning:

Shrub pruning should be treated the same as tree pruning. Early fall pruning can severely damage your shrubs and should be avoided until the shrub has gone dormant for the season.

Tip: You can and should prune shrubs any time it becomes necessary (broken branches, dead or diseased wood, or removing growth that is obstructing a sidewalk or road).

Alternatives to Fall Pruning

Fortunately, there is no shortage of activities you can perform in place of pruning. Your landscape will benefit from the following:

Rake Leaves and Debris – Most fungi and bacteria overwinter (lie in wait) in fallen leaves and debris. Rake this material up regularly and dispose of it from your property. Avoid composting these leaves and material as you may be cultivating harmful plant/tree pathogens.

Mulch – Offer a protective layer of mulch to trees, shrubs, and gardens for the winter months. A new or refreshed three to four-inch layer of organic mulch will help regulate soil moisture and temperature.

Fall activities can include mulching

Amend Your Soil – The fall season is also a good time to amend your landscape and garden soil with compost or fertilizer. A simple soil test can reveal which nutrients your soil is lacking.

Mark Your Trees – Instead of pruning, take a can of red or pink spray paint and mark the branches you’d like to remove at a more appropriate time. Branches to be marked may include:

Fall pruning can be avoided by marking the trees to be removed in winter or early spring
  • Branches obstructing free-flowing light and air through the canopy
  • Crossover branches that rub and cause open wounds to form in the canopy (remove the smaller of the two)
  • Low hanging branches that may interfere with foot traffic
  • Branches or limbs growing vertically (water sprouts)

Tip: The more prep work you can get accomplished in the fall, the less work you’ll need to do, and the better your landscape’s conditions will be in the spring.

Pruning in the Fall

In this article, you discovered what to prune in the fall and when your trees, shrubs, and plants respond best to pruning activities.

Knowing when and what to prune in the fall season will help you maintain the health and vigor of your plants, shrubs, and trees.

Haphazardly pruning in fall months can lead to diseased or infested plants, shrubs, and trees, sometimes resulting in catastrophic damages when they die or are destroyed in severe weather events.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Black Walnut Tree Toxicity

Nearly every part of the black walnut tree contains juglone

Prevent the frustration and embarrassment of planting a beautiful garden, only to have it wilt and die within weeks. Knowing how black walnut trees are toxic will help you plant vulnerable species out of their reach. gathered the following information about black walnut tree toxicity, how to prevent it from killing your yard and garden, what plant species are tolerant to them, and how removing the tree may not eliminate its toxicity.

What Is Black Walnut Tree Toxicity?

Black walnut (Juglans nigra L.) is a highly sought-after US native hardwood lumber tree. Black walnut is typically grown as a landscape shade tree and, often, for its edible nuts. While some plants and trees grow well near black walnut, there are many plant and tree species whose growth is adversely affected by this tree.

Black walnut fruit looks similar to the more common walnut but with some toxicity

Black walnut trees produce a chemical called juglone (5 hydroxy-1,4- napthoquinone), which naturally occurs in all parts of the tree. Higher concentrations of this chemical are found in the tree’s buds, nut hulls, and roots. Leaves and stems contain smaller amounts of juglone, which is leached into the soil after they fall. High concentrations of juglone occur in the soil under the tree’s canopy. However, highly sensitive plants can exhibit toxicity symptoms far beyond the canopy drip line. This occurs because decaying roots tend to release juglone.

Other closely related trees also produce juglone but at considerably lower concentrations than black walnut. Rarely will these trees produce or concentrate enough juglone to adversely affect sensitive plants. These trees include:

• English Walnut
• Pecan
• Butternut
• Shagbark Hickory

Juglone is produced by several other tree species including pecan

Note: The relationship between plants in which one produces a substance adversely affecting the growth or health of another is known as “allelopathy.”

Tip: If you consider removing your black walnut to curb the toxic effects of juglone, consider that soil toxicity may persist for several years after removal (while the tree’s roots decay). Complete tree removal (tree, stump, and roots) is recommended for faster soil recovery.

Juglone Toxicity Symptoms

Juglone toxicity symptoms begin to appear either when a black walnut is maturing and its root zone increases in size, encroaching on other sensitive plant or tree roots, or juglone-sensitive plants are placed within the black walnut’s root zone (60 feet or more from a mature black walnut’s trunk). These symptoms manifest as:

• Wilting
• Yellow Leaves (chlorosis)
• Stunted or Slow Growth
• Rapid Decline and Death

As of the publication of this article, there is no known remedy, treatment, or cure for juglone toxicity once a sensitive plant or tree has been affected.

Many plant species are sensitive to juglone

Note: Some highly sensitive plant species that cannot tolerate even the slightest concentrations of juglone can die in a matter of months or even weeks.

Tip: Because juglone toxicity symptoms may be easily confused with other diseases, infestation, or nutrient deficiency problems, it is recommended to hire an arborist to evaluate the landscape and recommend a course of action.

Plant Species Sensitive to Juglone

The following plant species should not be planted in a garden situated within 60 feet of a mature black walnut tree:


• Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
• Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
• Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
• pepper (Capsicum)
• potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)
• Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
• Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

Tomatoes are a juglone sensitive crop


• Apple (Malus domestica)
• Blackberry (Rubus)
• Blueberry (Cyanococcus)
• Pear (Pyrus)

Popular Landscape Plants

• Azalea (Rhododendron)
• White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
• Ornamental Cherries (Prunus avium)
• Crabapple (Malus)
• Honeysuckle (Lonicera)(some species)
• Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
• Lilac (Syringa)
• Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
• Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
• Yew (Taxus baccata)

Popular Garden Flowers

• Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)(some species)
• Columbine (Aquilegia)
• Lily (Lilium)
• Peony (Paeonia)(some species)
• Petunia (Petunia)

Petunias are sensitive to juglone

Note: If proximity to a black walnut tree is unavoidable, raised garden beds offer a creative solution. However, the bed must be constructed in a way that minimizes or eliminates tree root penetration. These beds must also be kept free of black walnut leaf litter or nuts.

Juglone Tolerant Plant Species

The following plant species have exhibited tolerance to juglone:


• Lima Bean (Phaseolus lunatus)
• Beets (Beta vulgaris)
• Carrots (Daucus carota)
• Melon (Cucumis melo)
• Onion (Allium cepa)
• Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
• Squash (Cucurbita)


• Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
• Cherry (Prunus avium)

Popular Landscape Plants

• Arborvitae (Thuja)
• Daphne (Daphne)
• Forsythia (Forsythia)
• Hemlock (Tsuga)
• Junipers (Juniperus)
• Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana)
• Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
• Wild Rose (Rosa)
• Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Persimmon species are tolerant to juglone

Popular Garden Flowers

• Begonia (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum)
• Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
• Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)(some species)
• Cranesbill (Geranium)
• Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum)
• Daylily (Hemerocallis)
• Ferns (Tracheophyta)
• Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa siehei)
• Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
• Lamb’s-ear (Stachys byzantina)
• Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
• Tulip (Tulipa)
• Violet (Viola)

Tip: When in doubt about a plant’s tolerance to juglone, ask the garden center or nursery attendant for help.

Violet flower species are tolerant to juglone

Are Black Walnut Trees Toxic to Dogs?

Yes. They can be, when moldy (Penicillium spp.), fallen walnuts containing the mycotoxin (Penitrem A) that is poisonous to dogs and other animals that eat the moldy walnuts. Dogs, in particular, can develop convulsions a few hours after eating these moldy walnuts. Hyperthermia, rapid breathing, urination, and dilated pupils may also be seen in affected animals.

Tip: If you suspect that your dog has consumed these nuts, seek immediate veterinary assistance (take a sample of what was consumed with you to the vet’s office).

Killer Black Walnut Trees

In this article, you discovered essential information on black walnut toxicity, protecting your yard and garden space, and how removing the tree may not eliminate the problem.

Planting juglone tolerant plant species and keeping more vulnerable species far from the black walnut tree, you can still create a harmonious ecosystem for your landscape.

Ignoring the juglone toxicity symptoms of your plants, shrubs, and trees can leave you running in circles looking for reasons why your landscape is dying, and nothing you plant will grow.


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