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Deciduous tree, shrub pruning

Last week’s column covered a few tree pruning basics related to proper equipment use and care and safety and injury prevention. Basic pruning always includes removal of dead, damaged, or diseased branches; crossed or rubbing branches; and suckers and water sprouts.

A timely text last Tuesday from my friend, Sue Keys, prompted me to include a helpful piece of information for spring pruning season in this column.

Sue asked, “…when pruning this early, no telltale buds or leaves, how to tell if branch is dead?” You can perform two simple tests, either of which will let you know if the branch remains viable or if it should be removed. First, find a pencil-sized branch and attempt to snap off the tip. If it breaks easily, the branch is dead. If the branch is flexible and bends but doesn’t break, it is alive. For the second test, scratch the bark on a branch with a knife or your fingernail. If the tissue is white or gray, start pruning. If it is moist, flexible, and green, it is alive....

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