Crape Murder!

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Crape Murder!

Don’t commit “Crape Murder”!

As I was running some errands this past weekend I was amazed to see the legion of men outside on a gorgeous Sunday morning armed with their saws, loppers, and pruners committing “crape murder” as their wives stood guard with a menacing smirk. I could almost hear the trees begging for me to stop them.

In all seriousness, a crape myrtle should be there to provide you with beauty throughout the year. Obviously everyone notices the showy flowers, but the unique bark should also be admired. When pruning a crape myrtle the objectives should be to maintain it natural form, produce strong branches that can hold the flowers upright, and to opens its center to reveal the smooth, multi-toned bark that forms on mature trunks and branches. If you are pruning your tree to look like a hat rack you are not fulfilling these objectives. The bark will never develop correctly. Each nub will produce a weak mess of branches too flimsy to support the flowers.

Follow these guidelines to create a beautiful specimen. Pruning should ideally be done in late winter early spring. You want to remove all suckers at the base, crossing or rubbing branches, and branches growing towards the center of the plant. Any cuts should be made at the branch collar or just above an outward facing bud. Try to remove wanted branches before they become thicker than a pencil. If you are not sure please call a professional!

As a landscaper I have come across many excuses for why their crape myrtles have been murdered.

– “My neighbors all do it.” Your neighbors do a lot of things you should research before you copy them!

– “The ‘landscapers’ do it every year.” The term landscaper is used very loosely. Check their certifications and ask for them to produce their techniques from a reputable source.

– “The dang thing gets way too big!” You planted the wrong crape myrtle. There are many smaller cultivars out there that grow to a height of twelve feet or less.

Finally, a word to the wives. The minute football season ends next year treat your husband to a drag race, strong man competition, or game of extreme welding. Do not let him near the saws or loppers! Call the professional.

Tom Kniezewski
Account Manger

Contact Sunrise Landscape and Design, Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company for all your lawn maintenance needs.  We are a full service landscape contractor serving Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County and Loudoun County.  Whether you need landscape design with water features, landscape lighting, walkways and patios or lawn maintenance services such as lawn mowing, mulching turf care, leaf clean-up or garden clean-up we work with you to make your landscape beautiful.


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