The best time to prune is typically when the tree or shrub is dormant, which is why heavier pruning or rejuvenation pruning should be reserved for the late fall and winter months. During the hot summer months, is when the focus should be turned to maintenance pruning.
Maintenance pruning is when you clip or trim any longer or protruding stems or branches and perform light shaping. This is also the time when you would remove any suckers or shoots that may be popping up.
How you prune ultimately depends on the plant, but there are a few basic guidelines that you can follow for optimal plant health.
Dead or diseased limbs are the easiest to spot and should be removed. This will help prevent any pests or disease from taking over the entire plant.
In fact, during the summer, when conditions can be hot and less than ideal, try not to prune more than 10-15% of the plant.
Pruning during a drought when the plant is not getting enough water, can create too much stress on the plant and cause damage.
Summer is the ideal time to prune magnolia trees. The same holds true for any tree that bleeds sap when cut. Again, aim to prune the dead or diseased stems first. Be sure to take time to step back and look at the tree as you prune. This will enable you to shape the tree better. Shape your trees so that they maintain a natural looking canopy and allow plenty of light to reach the center of the tree for continued growth.
Weeping plants such as weeping cherries, willows and more should be pruned during the summer if they are getting too close to the ground. This will prevent infestation of insects and pests.
Shrubbery that grows close to the house should be pruned. When shrubs grow too close to the home, it can create moisture damage to the siding.
Summer is also the perfect time to shape or train ornamental trees, shrubs or vines that you may want a specific structure or design for. As suckers and new growth is sprouting, you can use landscaping string, wire and stakes to train the direction of growth, create a design or build out a certain shape.