Pruning trees and shrubs is one of the few reasons we northern gardeners have for venturing into the garden in the winter. And even at that, pruning at our house is generally limited to our two full-size apple trees. These 50-year-old trees sucker and send up waves of water sprouts that demand an annual haircut.
When we first moved in, we realized they hadn't been properly pruned in 13 years. That's the number of growth rings that were visible on the water sprouts (some more than two inches in diameter and sticking straight up) that Mark cut out. Getting the trees in shape was a laborious process of taking out a third of the overgrown wood each year for three years. Now it's more a case of annual maintenance.