Here in Eastern North Carolina winter is the perfect time to prune many of the trees and shrubs we have in our landscapes.

There are a few general rules of thumb to remember when pruning your landscape plants:

1.) Avoid pruning between the months of July and November.

2.) Keep hedges and large shrubs widest at the base to allow for sunlight.

3.) If a plant blooms before May, prune after bloom.

4.) If a plant blooms after May, prune before new growth develops in the spring.

5.) Light pruning for shape and correction can be done throughout the year on most plants.

6.) Routine pruning to remove weak, diseased or dead limbs can be done at any time and is important to maintain the health and viability of many trees.

7.) Do not top trees! This is not an acceptable pruning practice for established trees.

8.) Be sure to choose the appropriate tool for the task and check that tools are clean and sharp to ensure the best cuts. Use the three-cut method to remove large limbs.

If you are interested in learning more about pruning for healthy landscapes, join me on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Pitt County Agricultural Center for a more in-depth discussion on proper pruning techniques as well as a demonstration in the gardens of the Pitt County Arboretum.

There is no cost for this workshop but please call the Pitt County Extension Office at 902-1709 to register and secure your spot. We will cover timing, tools, techniques and more! A ton of pruning tips you will not want to miss!

Our Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are also on hand for assistance and advice for all things gardening. You can reach them via the Extension Master Gardener Infoline on Mondays and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at 902-1705. They are a treasure for insight and real-world advice in the world of horticulture.

You can, as always, find me in the Pitt County Extension Office or by contacting me by phone or email; both can be found at

N.C. Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership of NC State Extension, The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and local governments statewide.

Extension professionals in all 100 counties and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians connect millions of North Carolinians with research-based information and technology from N.C. State and N.C. A&T. Educational programs specialize in agriculture, food and nutrition, 4-H youth development, community development and the environment.

Find your local center at

Contact or 252-329-9587.