The first kind of winter gardening does not necessarily require you to go out and do actual gardening. In this type of gardening, you just have to lounge in your favorite chair while going over gardening catalogues which usually arrive in the mail by January. You can either envision how you would create your garden come spring or you can start sketching designs of the gardens you plan to develop.
On the other hand, you need to go out and do a little work in the second method of winter gardening. During winter, it is good to do some trimming and pruning. However, do this only if the temperature is above freezing. After all, you wouldn’t want to go out if the temperature is below freezing. And besides, wood becomes brittle when it is extremely cold which may cause it to splinter if cut.
Specifically for deciduous plants, winter is a good time for trimming and pruning your plants because the shape is much more visible and the plant is more accessible for you to see which needs to be cut out and which parts should be left alone. Another upside of trimming and pruning during winter is that plants will not mind you working a little on them since they are dormant.
Weeping Cherries, Crabapples, Acers are some examples of ornamental trees. These types of trees have branches which usually extend in various directions such that you need to trim them regularly to cut out competing or overlapping branches. Remember that you have to visualize first how you would want the tree to look before starting the trimming process.
Initially, you have to look inside the tree and you can observe from there what can be removed. If you do this, you will be able to find a lot of small branches which have been deprived of sunlight. These branches no longer contribute anything to the tree and thus need to be eliminated.
You should cut branches which are growing toward the center since they will get little sunlight. In cases where two branches cross, one branch should be cut out. Upon finishing cleaning the inside of the tree, you can now proceed with designing the exterior. The same principles can be applied to Shrubs also.
Evergreens, including Laurus nobilis (Bay) Eleagnus, Euonymous to give some examples I would prune in September (Autumn) or Spring after the frosts, this gives them a chance to heal before winter sets in.
It is really fairly straightforward to shape the plant’s exterior. Simply create an image in your mind of how you would want the plant to look and sketch imaginary lines of the finished outline of the plant. Whatever is outside of these imaginary lines should be trimmed off. For branches which have not yet reached these lines, trim the tips to force the plant to fill out.
Plants typically have two types of growth, namely, terminal branches and lateral branches. There is usually one terminal bud at the very end of each branch. Lateral branches are those which grow along the sides, horizontally. If not trimmed, the terminal branches, normally vertical will continuously grow in an upward direction such that the plant grows tall and very thin. This is the reason why trees in the woods are not very appealing as they are very thin, being drawn up to the light. But don’t forget, you can also have strong terminal shoots and branches growing horizontally.
As you prune and trim always inspect your plant objectively and cut out whichever branch that just does not look right for the overall shape of the Tree or Shrub.
New sets of buds will grow out when you trim a branch of a plant. If you want to make your plant pleasant and full, remove the terminal bud since this will bring about multiple buds resulting in a bushier plant. Trimming more frequently will make the plant fuller and bushier. Don’t be scared to cut your plant since this will make them much more beautiful.
Most people tend to shy away from trimming their plants especially when it comes to plants like Japanese red leaf maples. They just can’t imagine themselves cutting a plant like this. Be brave, go ahead you’ll find yourself staring at a very beautiful bushier plant come the spring.
Don’t worry too much if you think you have made a mistake, it will grow back. The only mistake you can make is deciding not to trim.