Don't Let A Hack Job Ruin Your Crepe Myrtle

Posted on: 9 April 2016

Thanks to its long-lasting blooms and bright, vivid colors, the crepe myrtle is a popular tree found in many yards. Keep your crepe myrtle looking beautiful with proper pruning. Many homeowners inadvertently lop off too much of the tree when they are pruning it, resulting in a phenomenon known as "crepe murder." It is important for crepe myrtle owners to learn what "crepe murder" is, how to avoid it, and how to properly prune the crepe myrtle.

What is crepe murder?

A tree suffers from crepe murder when all of its branches are all cut to the same level. Instead of taking the time to properly trim each branch, homeowners cut them all so that they are the same length. Though this method certainly takes less time, the effect is an ugly crepe murder that resembles a tree stump.

What are the negative consequences of crepe murder?

Aside from making the stunning crepe myrtle an ugly eye sore, crepe murder actually sacrifices the structural integrity of the tree. The sprouts that grow out of the crepe's branches will grow thinner than they should, making them weak. When the crepe myrtle blooms, these branches cannot support the weight of the flowers. Instead, they bend over to the ground. A crepe myrtle whose structural integrity has been continually sacrificed with poor pruning can even die.

Another adverse consequence of crepe murder is that it interferes with the formation of mottled bark, a feature that many homeowners find aesthetically pleasing.

How do you properly prune a crepe myrtle?

To properly prune a crepe myrtle, use a pair of pruners to trim the top branches two to three feet. When cutting, always cut back to a larger tree branch, taking care to not leave stump-like branches. Remove branches that are dead, dying, or growing at weird angles. Evaluate each branch individually when deciding what to cut.

A properly pruned crepe myrtle should have a shape that resembles a vase.

What if my crepe myrtle is still too large after pruning it?

Some homeowners murder their crepe myrtles because they need to reduce the overall size of the tree. If your crepe myrtle is too large, do not turn to crepe murder. Instead, it may be best to relocate the tree. Though the exact size depends on the variety of your crepe myrtle, you can expect the crepe myrtle to grow anywhere from 15 to 30 feet wide. Look for a spot that can accommodate the tree's full size.

Don't let a poor pruning job harm your crepe myrtle. Instead, learn how to properly prune this gorgeous tree. The crepe's health and curb appeal depends on it. Contact a business, such as Kansas City Tree Care, LLC, for more information. 

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