Since moving into a house, I have discovered that I like to see things grow. Planting stuff here and feeding stuff there really pays off this time of year when plants and trees start to bloom. It's very pleasing to see the new buds coming out, the green leaves and signs of new life. However, I also have discovered that I can't just sit back and watch it grow. Work is involved.
Take, for example, the practice of pruning. It's so painful at first because you lop off limbs that had beautiful flowers and leaves on them last season, but this season those same limbs are in the way of other limbs you'd rather have grow. 3 principles of pruning that I've learned through reading and asking the garden dept. people at Lowe's and Home Depot are:
1. Cut off dead wood. Limbs that are no longer blooming or show no sings of life strain the structure of the tree and invite disease for the whole trunk. Cut it off as close to the junction with live wood as possible. Getting rid of the dead limbs can save the rest of the tree.
2. Cut off limbs that conflict with the main branches. Limbs often grow randomly and can crowd the growth from the main branches. Also, limbs can press tightly up against a primary branch causing it structural stress. Though it looks healthy now, it can stress and damage the tree if left alone. It needs to go.
3. Cut off limbs to shape the tree for the desired result. When one looks at their foliage, the garden manager should determine what the aesthetic or organic goal was in growing these plants or tress in the first place. Then, cut off branches (without irreparably harming the main tree) that to not conform with the vision for how the tree of plant should be shaped. This is not only done with Hedge rows and Junipers, but also with Crape Myrtles, Live Oaks, etc.
These three principles have proven to help in growing living things around my house. I didn't understand this one summer when my mother came to visit for a week and pulled a "Freddy Kruger" on my front holly tree. I freaked. "Why did you do that?" I demanded. "To keep it healthy, growing and beautiful," she replied. I've sense learned she was right.
*Some reading this may have guessed by now that I'm really speaking of the Church.