cutting evergreens

Practise safe snipping when gathering branches for holiday decorating

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In a recent post, the Savvy experts talked about gathering boughs and branches for holiday decorating. Depending on where you live, your backyard just might be the right place to “shop” for fresh materials. However, if you consult some type of pruning reference like I do (my personal favourite is The Pruning Answer Book), you will see that late fall/early winter is not really the optimal time to go cutting certain types of branches with abandon. But, if you follow a few judicious pruning tips, you can add a few fresh branches to your holiday decorations.

* Use sharp, clean pruners to make precise cuts that don’t crush the stems. Never try to tear off a branch.

* Avoid leaving stubs as they can invite disease – trim a branch at its base where it meets a larger one.

* The best time to prune a pine tree is in early summer. So, if you’d like to snip branches from a tree in your yard now, take out a lower branch at the main trunk – or one that’s more hidden. You could also take some from the bottom of your live Christmas tree instead.

* Broadleaf evergreens, such as boxwood and holly, as well as conifers, like cedar and juniper, can actually benefit from a light trim at this time of year.

* Lastly, be mindful of a tree or hedge’s natural shape. You don’t want to end up with a misshapen tree because you needed to fill a space in your holiday urn!

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