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Planting and Pruning in Summer: Why or Why Not?

Gardeners and arborists are usually pretty patient people, but there can be some disagreement as to whether or not pruning and planting can be done in summer. It’s tricky, because the growing season is in full-swing, and a lot of home gardeners worry about harming their trees long-term by pruning and planting when the trees are using the most energy.

Like so many other questions in life, it’s a pretty grey area! Under certain circumstances, trees can be pruned and planted at any time of the year, but it’s not the same as pruning and planting in the other seasons. How should you act in summer?

Pruning In Summer?

There are circumstances where pruning needs to be handled immediately, regardless of the season. Any limbs that are broken, dying, or dead need to be removed before they become entry points for diseases and insects that can hurt or kill the tree. These limbs are also the first to go in harsh weather, so they can do serious harm to your property, too. Under these conditions, you shouldn’t hesitate to prune in summer.

In a way, pruning in summer is the opposite of pruning in winter: in summer it’s done to check growth, while in winter you prune to stimulate growth. You can still trim around to keep up a tree’s appearance, but major pruning in the summer can put a lot of stress on the tree at a time when they have to use their energy to make food, so prune only if necessary. If your trees bloom in summer, they should be pruned in winter while they’re dormant, or at the latest early spring before they’ve started budding.  

Planting In Summer?

Planting a tree in the summertime sounds like a bad idea, because it’s a time of heatwaves and drought, making it seem like young trees won’t have a chance! Don’t worry about it, because summer is as good a time as any to plant a new tree. You just need to make sure you set it up to succeed, and that means proper care.

Start off with a tree that is well-rooted in a pot of soil, because this way it’ll have a strong root system; avoid trees planting garden blog image arborist tree surgeoncoming with bare roots. Give the planted tree a deep, slowly given watering every couple of days, really soaking the soil. This way the tree’s roots will go deeper into the soil, where moisture holds for longer. Shallow waterings done every day will result in shallow roots and a weaker system. Water in the early morning or just before dusk so that the sun won’t evaporate the moisture before the tree can take it in.

Believe it or not, trees can get sunburnt when out in direct, intense sunlight. You can use shades to protect new plantings, but you’d have to place them in the right location as the sun moves across the sky. The best way to prevent sunburns is to buy some white tree guard and wrap it loosely around the trunk. Tree guard is also effective for winter, so you can keep it on year-round as the tree grows.

To help stimulate a healthy, deep growth, put a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree. This helps the soil retain moisture as well as regulates the tree’s temperature, allowing it to adjust and stay cool when the sun rises and the temperature heats up too fast. However, avoid fertilizer in the summer; this is best left in spring, as fertilizing in summer can burn the roots if there’s not enough moisture.

When done right, planting and pruning can still be done in summer! It just takes time, patience, and planning to make sure your tree grows (or continues to grow) healthy and strong. If you need guidance, call a trained arborist to come help you make the best decisions, and maybe even do some of the work for you. Trees aren’t just ornaments for your property – they’re great investments!

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