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How to prune evergreens

Discussion of tree and shrub pruning would be incomplete if we neglected to examine some basics of evergreen pruning. Native and exotic, mostly Asian, species of evergreens grow in yards all over the Middle Peninsula. Whether native or introduced, evergreens have growth habits and pruning needs that are different from those of deciduous trees.

Evergreens are plants that retain their leaves throughout the winter. Most have needles or scale-like leaves and seed-bearing cones. These trees and shrubs are called conifers. The dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is unique in that it is one of a few species of deciduous conifer. The fine, feathery, green needles turn rust brown in the fall and drop. Other evergreens, like Southern magnolia, live oak, and evergreen holly, have broad, leathery leaves instead of needles.

Evergreens grow best in their natural form, and most evergreens seldom need pruning except to remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood. The basic pruning technique ...

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