In case you hadn’t twigged, trees do need like TLC

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That’s it, Christmas has been and gone. The New Year beckons, but in the meantime, there’s the golden opportunity to test out those Santa-delivered shears, secateurs and loppers.

If the weather holds fair, this is the chance to get outdoors and scrutinise all your deciduous trees and shrubs to see if any need a bit of TLC.

Now that the boughs are bare, it’s a lot easier to spot problems. If a tree has damaged or diseased branches, or if there are branches overlapping, winter is the ideal time to remedy matters. If it’s a one-person job, then christen those new pruning tools; if the boughs are too big to handle, phone a friend to help or get in touch with a tree expert.

Ideally, the most important thing is to cut out any dead or diseased wood and to remove branches that are rubbing together. Try to prune as close as possible to the tree trunk and keep the cut clean.

If the tree has grown too big for its roots and spread beyond its boundaries, then trim it back – but remember that pruning actually encourages plants to produce new growth, so you may have to do the job on an annual basis.

So take out what needs taking out – and nothing more. Open up the middle of the tree to encourage a better flow of air and discourage many of the diseases that take advantage of poor circulation.

And after the work is done, give the tree a feed and apply a mulch around the base – but leave a small gap around the trunk.

Next year, pruned trees and shrubs will throw out plenty of new growth, so keep an eye on things and cut out any shoots you think are growing in the wrong spot or wrong direction. Nip these in the bud and you’ll save yourself a lot of work later.

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