We spent some time this weekend pruning our ornamental trees. The one outside the kitchen had sprouted three branches that were growing straight up instead of down and looked awful, and our other weeping trees were all messy and wild.
We didn't know that our ornamental trees, including the one outside the kitchen, were grafted trees where one type of tree is grafted onto another (the rootstock). Or that the huge sticky-uppy branches looked like that because they were the rootstock growing up, not the weeping part growing. We just chopped off all those vertical branches, as well as any branches growing out of the rootstock trunk - which was the right thing to do anyways.
In pruning the ornamentals we also tried to take out all the dead stuff, any branches that were crossing over others, and any branches that didn't look right so that the plants looked balanced. That turned out to also be the right thing to do, thank goodness.
Unfortunately (and perhaps unsurprisingly), the previous owners hadn't properly pruned these trees. Instead of thinning out the branches, they wove some horizontal ones to make them weep and cut off other ones to create a particular shape. These trees have branches twisted and curled all around each other which isn't good for the tree. In theory, these trees should be gorgeous and have lovely architectural shapes even in winter but these just look like haystacks. It will take a few years for us to prune them enough to make them look their best.
Thankfully, we don't need to give any more trees the same kind of drastic haircuts we gave the ornamental trees. The remainder of the trees just need a trim to prevent them from looking shaggy (the way hedges are trimmed) but we don't have the right equipment to do that yet.
We also wanted to move the tall decorative grass to cover some of the holes the trees left when we removed them but we can't do that right now, either. It turns out that the grass is Miscanthus 'Giganteus', or Giant Silver Grass, and it can only be divided like that at the end of winter. We'll have to live with having the privacy holes in our fence for a few months.
Taking care of all of these trees is our yard is a lot of work! I still love the yard and everything, but knowing what I know now, I might have chosen differently. Then again, there's something satisfying about working with our land to make it beautiful, isn't there?