Issue: July 26, 1999

Can I prune pinyons now?


Can I prune my pinyon pine trees now?


The answer is yes, but now is not the best time to prune pine trees. The best time is in the spring just before growth begins.

However, if you have dead or dying branches, they should be pruned now. Dead and dying branches are attractive to insects and should not be allowed to remain on the tree. Any time you see such branches, remove them.

If your tree has hazardous branches interfering with traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, if they block views of traffic, if they interfere with mowing and other lawn activities, then they should be pruned now. The safety of people should be considered more important than a minor weakening of the tree. However, if waiting until spring to prune is possible, then wait. If you must prune in the summer, minimize the amount of wood and the quantity of leaves (pine needles) removed as these are the source of food for the tree and important to the "economy" of the tree. Lower branches on pine trees are often shaded by the upper branches. These branches are not as productive in the economy of the tree and may be removed with minimum damage to the health of the tree.

Can I move iris now?


Is it okay to move my irises now? I have sold my home and would like to take my irises with me.


We are now entering the best time to transplant irises. Your timing is good. Irises and other spring blooming perennials are best transplanted in the late summer. This allows them time to establish a good root system in the fall so that they are ready to blossom again in the spring.

Prepare a good site for them, loosening the soil, incorporating compost, and applying phosphate fertilizer. Once the irises are transplanted, be certain to keep the soil moist but don't over water. There should be some moisture in the soil to allow root growth and prevent desiccation of the plants.

Divide the irises as you transplant them. You need not dig a whole clump and try to keep it intact. One or just a few growths with their leaves trimmed back should be sufficient to allow the plants to establish and flower next year.