I have*3 trees I would like to identify and also tips for pruning or trimming them. I want to try to keep them smaller to better fit the gaden.* They are in the different posts since I don't think I can have more than 1 at a time.
The shrub on the corner in the left side of the picture appears to be a Mugo pine aka Pinus mugo.* Most that are planted these days are dwarf, but they can get quite large over time.* Named cultivars make it easier to predict their mature size.* If you inherited these plantings, look for some type of label in the shrub, or see if you can contact the former owner or landscaper for more specific details on it.*
A good way to prune pine is to clip the candles (more on that later).* I also noticed some dead branches, but since I don't know where you live, I can only guess it could be from winter dieback or some type of pest.** This is a sun loving conifer and should not be pruned heavily into the shrub, but only within the green living area.
This is a calendar of when to prune which evergreens.* Your mugo pine will be best pruned in April, May or June.
From this site, which has lots of useful info and shows a nice sketch if you click on 'Figure 7' while there:
"Terminal growth of pines can be controlled by removing one-half of the candle in the spring just prior to needle expansion (Figure 7).* This encourages new bud formation at the pinch, slows growth on the pinched branch and creates a more compact plant. New buds will not form behind pruning cuts made into older wood.
To encourage rapid shoot development and greatest overall plant growth, prune just prior to the first spring growth flush. To retard growth for maximum dwarfing effect, prune just after each growth flush. Late summer pruning may stimulate an additional flush of shoot growth on species which flush several times each year. These shoots could be damaged by an early frost.Closure of pruning wounds on most trees and shrubs should be most rapid if pruning is conducted just before, or immediately following the spring growth flush. This is desirable because a closed wound is more aesthetically pleasing, and insects, diseases and decay organisms are discouraged from entering the plant. Late fall and early winter pruning can stimulate new growth, particularly during a mild period during the winter. These succulent stems are not cold hardy and can be easily damaged, even by a light frost. Low winter temperatures can also cause cambium damage near pruning cuts, even if growth is not stimulated by pruning. This is particularly true of plants which are marginally hardy. If in doubt about cold susceptibility, it is best to delay heavy pruning to just before growth begins in the spring.Some trees such as birch, maple, dogwood, elm and walnut bleed sap from pruned wounds if they are pruned during late winter or early spring. This "bleeding" is not harmful to the tree, but the dripping sap is often objectionable. Trees which show this tendency should be pruned in late fall or early winter."
Keep in mind that dead wood can be pruned at any time.
Great information!! Thank you very much. As for the Mugo Pine, the branches you mentioned seemed to be damaged by some bugs I have found on the tree in the summer. They look like small caterpillars that are yellow with black spots. I have found them just once each year. I just pick them off the branches and don't seem to see them again*until next year. By the time I notice them there are quite a few, maybe 50 or so. By the way I am in Massachusetts if that helps. Once again thank you for all the great information. Exactly what I was looking for.
You are so very welcome!* You might also note that I altered the title of your post by adding the name of your shrub.* Hope you don't mind.
Not sure what the caterpillars are but I suspect they are the pine sawfly aka European pine sawfly.* You can look here for id.* If so, you can use a horticultural oil in spring.* I recommend Organocide which is made from sesame oil, instead of Organicide which is made from petroleum.* (Note the difference in the spelling.)
You might want to add your state to your location in your profile so folks won't have to ask or guess.* It's often helpful.
Today I found more of the bugs as discussed. Usually I find them once mid summer and just pick them off the branches. There is @25-50 of them and they seem to concentrate on 1 or 2 branches. Today there was @6. I'm not sure if the link sent by Newt is the correct one. But here is a picture I took today. Thanks for the help and fell free to edit or move as you need.
Well, I was close. *:?* You have the red-headed pine sawfly which is native to the US.
You can pick them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water or spray with insecticidal soap every 5 days.*
From this site:
Outbreaks of the redheaded pine sawfly occur periodically and subside after a few years of heavy defoliation. The decline of these infestations is greatly influenced by rodents that destroy large numbers of cocoons. Diseases often kill tremendous numbers of larvae, and prolonged periods of high summer temperatures, or low temperatures and wet snowstorms in the early fall, also kill many larvae. Numerous parasitoids and predators are known to attack this sawfly in the United States and Canada; An introduced ichneumon wasp, Exenterus amictorius Panzer, has recently become established on this sawfly in the Lake States.
Outbreaks of the redheaded pine sawfly can usually be minimized by avoiding the planting of susceptible hosts where competition for moisture and nutrients may be great or where soil conditions are marginal for hard pine growth. Nonvigorous hosts are susceptible to this insect, and anything that promotes vigor should be utilized.
When only a few colonies of larvae are present on small roadside, ornamental, or plantation trees, they can be picked off or shaken from the trees and destroyed."
There's a map at that site but I found it difficult to read.* I put it on my desktop and enlarged it a bit and it appears you generally only get one generation a year.* Sounds like this year was an exception and you are seeing two generations.
Do be sure to give your pines excellent care.* Water during drought and fertilize by topdressing with 1/2" of compost each spring and fall if you can.* That will give them a nice slow release organic fertilizer each year.* You can purchase it by the bag and either move the mulch away, put down the compost and replace the mulch, or put it on top of the mulch.* The worms will work it down into the ground for you.* Keeping your pine shrubs and trees at optimum health will be most helpful to them.* Prune off any dead wood.
Once again I thank you very much!! Lot of great information I can use. Thanks again Newt!!!:D
Warrwiz, you are so very welcome!* Glad I could help.* :)*