At our new house, we have a BAGILLION crepe myrtle trees. It’s one of my favorites, especially when they bloom. I just think they are so pretty. I love the blooms, but I also love the wood. It is very interesting and looks kind of old and worn. Does that make any sense at all? Probably not. If you are unfamiliar with crepe myrtles, here are some in full bloom.
Isn’t that yard gorgeous?! And the crepe myrtles just take it over the top. Wish my yard was that lush and green. Anyways, I wanted to put together a step by step tutorial on how NOT to be a crepe murderer. There are certain things you should and should not do when trimming/pruning a crepe myrtle. The first thing you don’t want to do is to chop all the limbs off to the same length… also know as crepe murdering. I couldn’t do this to my own trees, so here’s an example I found online.
This is a big NO NO! Please don’t do this. It isn’t good for the trees and they look all weird and stuff when they grow out. Now, let’s get started shall we. For this project you will need:
1). Loppers/Clippers/Trimmers/Whatever you want to call them
2). Elbow grease
3). Tough skin
4). Gloves IF you are a sissy (I didn’t wear any)
5). Safety glasses might be a good idea (had a million pieces of crud in my eyes when I was done)
6). An Icee 🙂
Here’s a picture of the tree before I got started.
I like to start at the base of the tree. A lot of times there are these little “shoots” that are trying to grow and they just look ugly.
See all that mess? You need to clip all of that off. Sometimes other plants/trees/weeds try to invade. Get rid of those as well. The best way to clip/trim a limb or twig is at the base. It’s also important to cut it on an angle. Try not to let the limb/twig break off. That’s bad for the tree. Just take your loppers like so and whack those little shoots.
Now, just work your way up the tree. I don’t think it’s really necessary to get a ladder out. As long as you give the tree a good pruning at the spots you can reach from the ground, you’ve probably done enough. You may notice that these crepe myrtles already have a little green on them. J.C. asked me if it was bad to prune them once they have already produced foliage. I said, “Well, we mow grass while it’s growing and then it comes right back?!” I sure hope that’s how this works too 🙂
There are a few things you need to look for. One, make sure that you get rid of some of the smaller new growth so that the established, bigger limbs will have room to flourish. Secondly, make sure there aren’t any limbs that are rubbing against each other or growing into another limb. For example…
See that little limb right there that’s trying to become “one” with the bigger limb? That’s no bueno. You better cut that joker off. It has already done damage to the big limb and could eventually kill it.
You see that boo boo? Isn’t it sad? And do you see where I cut that little limb? I made sure to cut it at the base, on an angle. It had already done a lot of damage to this bigger limb. It may or may not heal. Time will tell. Here’s another little limb that was getting in the way of a bigger limb. See how my loppers are at the base of the little limb? Oh and by the way… don’t get your fingers in the way. You will FOR SURE be fingerless because these things are SHARP!
Ok. Do you get the jist? Are you understanding how to prune a crepe myrtle? If you will prune them each year, they should produce better foliage. The keyword in that sentence is “should.” Would you like to see an after picture?
Here’s the before again, just so you don’t have to scroll all the way back to the top of the post.
It just got a nice little haircut. Doesn’t it look better? Oh and here is the pile of everything that I trimmed.
That’s a lot of trimmings for one tree, huh? So… do you think you could trim a crepe myrtle now? Please don’t be a crepe murderer. That would be a shame. Leave a comment below to tell me if you have ever tried giving your trees/bushes/plants a “haircut.” How did it go? Did you murder it or did it come out alive?