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      Weather Garden Tip: Pruning Crabapple Trees

      I've finished pruning the crabapple. Looks better, doesn't it. / Mark Torregrossa

      It TMs been a long, snowy winter and I TMm sure you want to get out in the yard.

      We still have a few hard freezes on the way, so planting would be rushing it. There is a task that can be done now, and I find it rewarding after it TMs all done. So let TMs get pruning our crabapple trees. Crabapple trees should really be pruned in winter or early March, but this year was too cold and snowy. So we TMll do it now. It TMs a four step process. If you take each step one at a time the task isn TMt that overwhelming.

      Here are the four steps:1) Remove the suckers at the base of the tree. 2) Saw off or prune off any dead branches. 3) Remove what are called water sprouts. 4) Step back and find branches that just don TMt look right. Remove these and enjoy for a year.

      Let TMs go through the steps. Remove the suckers. These are branches that grow right out of the ground near the trunk of the tree. These suckers zap a lot of energy from the tree. So removing these will really help the tree bloom nicely, and set a lot of fruit. Although you don TMt eat crabapples, the birds and other wildlife love them. Watch out when cutting these suckers off. Hitting the soil with your pruners is a sure way to dull them quickly.

      Next there will be branches that are real thin, real straight, and grow straight up from a main branch in the center of the tree. These are called water sprouts. Why? I have no idea, but get rid of them. They grow into the center of the tree and really ruin the outline of the tree. They serve no purpose.

      The first two steps are the easy steps. You know the suckers and water sprouts just don TMt belong. This next step is a little harder. You have to step back and look! Imagine that limb gone and how the tree will look over the next few years without it. What will the limbs in that area look like? Rome wasn TMt built in a day, and your tree doesn TMt have to be pruned in a day. In fact, sometimes I TMm sitting on our patio looking at a tree, and it hits me. That branch needs to go! So I quick grab my pruners and cut it off. If a tree has been neglected for a few years, it may take a couple of years to get it back to where it looks nice.

      Now here TMs the rewarding part. A neighbor or family member will come over to your place, and maybe relax and have a beer with you. They TMll say,wow, your yard looks great. What did you do? They won TMt have a clue why the yard looks good, but it does. You TMll know why.