Dormant Pruning

“Winter” or “dormant” pruning is an essential horticultural practice that an experienced landscape contractor will utilize at their discretion. This is essentially a hard cutback (more than you would cut with hand pruners or shears during a typical pruning session) to reshape the plant and encourage new growth to form towards the inside of the plant. As plants are pruned during the summer months, a landscaper will strategically take as little plant material off during each pruning to avoid plant stress during hot temperatures. Because of this, the plant will start to form more leaves on the outside of the plant and less on the inside, creating a very bare environment in the middle of the plant over time. It is imperative that most woody shrubs are dormant pruned at strategic intervals during their life cycle. Not every shrub needs yearly dormant pruning, but some do. Your dedicated landscape professional should be able to distinguish which ones those are.

Depending on the plant variety and the amount of sunlight the plant receives each day, be prepared for a relatively slow grow back, especially if these cutbacks are performed in the dead of winter. If viable, we recommend waiting as close to March as possible since days are starting to get longer which will promote more sunlight and rapid photosynthetic growth. This will shorten the amount of time the plant will remain bare, with Spring becoming the first active growing period of the year for most woody plant material. If hard cutbacks are being done in heavily shaded areas throughout the year, be prepared for an even longer grow-back period. Depending on the severity of the cutback needed, it could take over a year for a plant to regain its natural vigor when in a heavily shaded area.Cherry Laurel

Dormant pruning also has other perks as well. It can apply to trees, too, for instance, as this is a great time to provide limb ups and more major cutbacks on them. Less sap is lost in the wintertime, putting less stress on the tree. Dormant pruning in the winter is also great because it can reduce the transmission of diseases and pests, mainly since the frigid temperatures inhibit the activity of both.

Whether you are attempting to tackle dormant pruning on your own or trusting a landscape expert, be sure to do the correct research and come up with a plan this winter. Hopefully, the points made above will help you give you a baseline of what needs to be done and what to expect given the circumstance.  Please reach out to us today to discuss your dormant pruning needs!

Operational Excellence

Finding a landscaping vendor that has every cylinder firing is getting more difficult to obtain these days. With so many more contractors to choose from now than ever before, there is a higher possibility of choosing the wrong one. Every now and again you will find a vendor that seems to be performing at the top of their level. Those are the ones you will do anything to keep. Throughout my career, I have noticed most of these top performers have one major thing in common: operational excellence.

Is the vendor professional in the most basic forms? As in, do they have a clean, presentable service vehicle and uniform? Something so simple, almost petty, is extremely important. If your landscaper pulls up to your job site every week in a dirty, unmarked vehicle with no formal uniform, how can you safely determine if those are the people you think they are? Not only does it not look professional, not knowing who or what those workers belong to could intimidate some of your residents or tenants. Your renters have better things to focus on. Do not allow your vendor to draw negative attention to themselves, because eventually, it will become a reflection on you.

Organization is key with any successful vendor. Let us start with scheduling. Does the contractor show up as agreed upon in the contract, consistently at the same intervals for each service? Or do they seem to be showing up when they can and having to perform make up services or “IOU” favors for lack of consistent service? A lot of this erratic behavior is stemmed from a poor organization or structure at their company. A great vendor will have a consistent schedule for the season, always having the correct equipment and people to perform the job. Of course, there will be times where something will go wrong even with a “perfect” vendor. Maybe a few folks called in sick or they had a breakdown on the highway which caused them to stray off schedule. What makes them a great vendor is that they let you know, and they communicated that to you and let you know the new plan. That brings me to the next point: communication.

Do you hear from your vendor once a month, once a quarter, or every week? Depending on the type of work performed and how often they are contractually required to visit your property, you may need to hear from one vendor more than another. Are they being proactive in communicating: schedule changes, pricing for enhancements, hazardous items, general cost-saving measures, or general notes of the property each week? Or are you having to reach out to them for every item? A well-oiled contractor will always have their communication down and you will know their every move.

These points discussed are some of the common trends or habits I have noticed that can separate a great vendor from a poor one. A vendor with operational excellence will be your eyes and ears for your property and will be a true partner. One should desire a company that makes your life easier, not harder. Make sure you choose one that fits your mold and takes your property to the next level with excellent operational fluidity. You won’t regret it.

Mike Bauer
Chapel Valley Landscape Company