by Betts* Putnam-Hidalgo
Neighbors, the Home Tour is coming up and it’s a good time to clean up our neighborhood. As the weather cools off, its nice to walk again, but some plants are starting to get a little shaggy in some areas, and some sidewalks are shrinking to remarkably thin tiptoe spaces! For safety and easy passage, it’s a good idea to prune back low-hanging tree branches and shrubs that are encroaching on the sidewalk. (According to the City, residents are responsible for maintaining a 4’ X 7’ clear corridor of sidewalk space). Fortunately it’s a great time to prune for the health of the plants as well.
How to prune so that you remove the problem without creating another one? Cut tree branches back to the tree trunk or where other branches begin if possible, instead of leaving stumps. Just keep in mind that if you leave a stump this year, it will turn into three offending branches next year as the tree does its best to recover. In contrast, when you cut back to the nearest node, resprouting from the area will be minimized. When cutting a heavy branch, be sure to cut off the bulk of the branch (the weight of it) first—then you can make your final pruning cut close to the trunk without danger of shredding or ripping the bark.
When cutting back shrubbery, your best bet is to a) try to follow the above rule for larger branches and b) where you are only cutting back very small branches, cut back approximately 6-8” from the sidewalk—that will leave the shrub space to grow new branches from the little stumps without immediately encroaching on the sidewalk again.
he neighborhood association has plans to put some dumpsters in the area to receive all of our prunings and trash from October 7-14 . However, the sooner stuff gets pruned, the sooner it will resprout and lose that “buzz cut” look, so you may want to prune early and hang on to the stuff in your yard until the dumpsters arrive.
If you are elderly, infirm or for some other reason completely unable to make the sidewalk in front of your house safe and clear for pedestrians, please call APNA at 520-955-9424. We can help you to find folks who can help!