Douglas FirI do not provide maintenance schedules. Most schedules I’ve seen, which have been generated from a computer program or taken directly from a popular plant database, seem too generic and general to me.

I believe overly general information can confuse a novice gardener. And even experienced gardeners I know keep detailed notes.

Here’s an example: If a maintenance schedule says prune in spring, would you know exactly what to do for that plant, and when to do it?

Spring is 3 months long. Might it be important to prune in the earlier or later part of spring? And prune how? Do you know that many plants prefer specific pruning techniques? Would you know which one to utilize by the phrase prune in spring? If for half the plants on your list the maintenance schedule said prune in spring, would you prune them all at the same time and in the same manner?

See my point? The type of pruning required for any given plant at any given time depends on many factors. Some plants won’t much care how or when they are pruned; others will care greatly.

So in the absence of a true maintenance schedule, I have 4 recommendations for learning how to do appropriate maintenance (particularly pruning):

  • Coaching! — On-site demonstration and explanation is a powerful way to learn. Me teaching you what you need to know!
  • Book #1
    Month-by-Month: Gardening in Washington & Oregon
    Robson, Mary. Cool Springs Press, 2005.
    — This book is basic, but it’s comprehensive and covers a lot more than pruning. It’s written by a WSU Master Gardener who lives in the Puget Sound area meaning that is specific to our PNW zone 8 region.
  • Book #2
    Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning
    Turnbull, Cass. (Sasquatch Books, 2005).
    — This is a great book, and it’s the one I recommend after I have a coaching session teaching pruning. It seems to be written as THE textbook for my classes. The best thing about this book is that it separates plants into growth-habit categories and explains the different pruning methods each category prefers. Such important information; so clearly explained. I could not have done better myself!
  • Book #3
    Pruning & Training: The Definitive Guide to Pruning Trees, Shrubs & Climbers
    Brickell, Christopher & Joyce, David. DK PUblishing, 2011.
    — This book shows the basic pruning methods and why one would choose one over another according to the situation. It explains which of the basic pruning methods should be employed and when for each type of plant. If a particular plant requires some special pruning that technique is explained on that plant record. After Cass’ book above, this is one of the best woody plant pruning guides I’ve seen.
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