·        Prune dead wood any time but make sure the branch or limb is dead. Just because the leaves or needles turn brown does not necessarily mean that the branch is dead.

·        Do not make a flush cut when trimming a shrub or tree. Cut just outside the branch collar which is a swelling where the branch comes from the main trunk or branch. See illustration below


Illustration is reprinted by permission from USDA Forest Service Publication #NA-FR-01-98, page #6. Illustration is by Julie Martinez of Afton , MN .


·        After pruning, do not apply tree paint, wound dressing, or tar. Research has found that a tree heals better without them.

·        Pruning on trees and shrubs promotes new growth from where you cut. Therefore, do not prune from mid-August to the time of a hard freeze as the new growth from pruning will usually not mature by the time we have a couple hard freezes. Immature new growth will not survive a normal winter in Southeast and South Central Nebraska.

·        prune most trees after a couple of hard freezes and the tree is dormant. Actually the best time to prune most trees and shrubs is in late February or early March just before new growth starts.  This way the open wound is not subject to a long period of cold weather. 

·        The best time to prune fruit trees is also in late February or early March while dormant. Removal of some of the sucker growth can be done any time.

·        DO NOT PRUNE most trees and shrubs between mid-April and the end of May which is the peak growth time.

·        DO NOT PRUNE OAK TREES between February 1st and Halloween when the beetle that carries a disease called Oak Wilt is most active. Open wounds on Oak trees is a prime target for this beetle. Prune Oak trees in the winter when the tree is dormant.

·        Do NOT PRUNE ELM TREES between April 1st and August 31st when the Elm Bark Beetle is most active.

·        In general those trees and shrubs that bloom in the spring on one year old wood should be pruned within 3 to 4 weeks after flower petal drop. This includes old fashioned FRENCH lilac, forsythia, BRIDAL WREATH SPIREA, and FLOWERING ALMOND. Pruning at any other time will remove next year’s flower buds.

·        MAGNOLIA do not like to be pruned unless necessary to remove dead branches or for minor shaping. Prune right after bloom.

     A special thank you to Steve   Schwab , City Forester for the City of Lincoln Parks & Recreation Dept., and Jeff Culbertson , University of Nebraska-Lincoln , Landscape Services East Campus Landscape Manager and Curator of Maxwell Arboretum for reviewing and editing this article for me.

Copyright 2010






     If crabgrass took over your lawn, or you had an infestation of grubs, or fungus wiped out spots in your yard, the best time to reseed is in the fall and primarily between August 15th and October 1st. Planting this time of year the grass will germinate faster in the warm soil than in spring, you will have less competition from weed seeds, and the new grass should mature before our harsh cold winter. If you wait too long in the fall to reseed, the new little seedlings may winter kill.

     This is also a good time to core aerate your lawn. Water your lawn a couple days before aeration. Aerate after applying a starter fertilizer and grass seed. Your fertilizer and grass seed will be deposited at just the right depth and have good contact with soil by applying before aeration.

     Start watering. The worst thing that can happen to new seed is to let it dry out before it germinates. The grass seed needs to keep damp but not soggy. In August and early September you will have to water at least once per day and on real warm days twice a day. To help keep the seed from drying out you can use a mulch mat, straw, or straw substitute made from ground-up newspapers (green or blue pellets) as mulch. The pellets swell when watered and since they are organic like the straw, they will decompose on their own and add organic matter to your soil.

     DO NOT BUY CHEAP SEED!!! Buy the best seed you can find that is blended for our Midwestern soil and weather. Use a blend of disease resistance grass.

     Your lawn will never look better than the quality of seed you put down. Buying quality, disease resistant seed now will save you four or five times the cost of the seed in time, money, and energy over the next three or four years.

Copyright 2010