How to Trim a Crepe Myrtle Tree: We work Yard for the Money Blog post
Updated: Mar 9
In Eastern North Carolina we have these beautiful trees called Crepe Myrtles and we are going to provide you with some basic instruction on trimming these trees.
Crepe Myrtles. If you would ask me what tree represents home in Eastern NC it would be the Crepe Myrtle. It is one of the most beautiful trees around. People from up north of plant hardiness zone are envious they cannot grow these trees. The City of New Bern, North Carolina requires special permission to trim these beautiful trees because they love them so much and they want to ensure they are properly cared for since they are such a staple in their Landscape. Crepe Myrtles come in many flowering colors, some with unique bark colors, and a few different sizes. They are easy to care for and can be a beautiful staple tree in your lawn and landscape. Trimming & pruning Crepe Myrtles are a little different than most trees. We are going to visit how to properly trim Crepe Myrtles as late January/February is the ideal time to trim these beauties. **Trivia Did you know Crepe Myrtles were introduced to the South in Charleston NC in 1759? So they have been around and established in our areas for MANY years.
So let's get tackle trimming Crepe Myrtles.
#1 - Crepes Types and Sizes:
Crepe Myrtles comes in different shapes and sizes. Dwarf and Short Crepe Myrtles can are shrub like and tend to need limited pruning for cosmetic purposes. Dwarf/Short varieties typically will only grow 4ft-10ft max depending on the variety. Medium and tall trees will be pruned to a tree like form. These can range from 10 ft to a massive 45 ft tall with some varieties. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND hiring a professional if you cannot reach your tree from the ground for trimming and pruning.
#2 -Equipment you need to Trim Crepe Myrtle:
So the equipment list isn't very long. Most of these items you can obtain at your local garden center.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves, Safety Glasses
Loppers (long handled pruner)
Handheld Pruning Shears
Chainsaw or Pole Saw (as needed and typically not used by homeowners)
You should invest in a quality set of trimming pruners that can handle trimming through tree branches. Lack of quality can lead to tools breaking easily or not performing well.
#3 - Pruning & Trimming
Since Dwarf and Short varieties of Crepe Myrtle tend to be more shrub like, these you can prune for cosmetic purposes. It's best to prune these to a mound shape to encourage dense growth. Using your handheld pruners trim back from the seed pod/flower stems approximately 4"-6" creating a mound. You may prune dead and unwanted stems as needed throughout the year. For Medium to Tall Crepe Myrtles you don't want to cut the branches too far back. These varieties do get "suckers" that will grow from the base of the tree and sometimes from the lower sections of the tree. We advice you trim suckers back and limit the number of trucks to 2-4 depending on what looks best and natural for your tree. Remove any large crossing or rubbing limbs. When trimming limbs, trim back to a branch or an outward facing bud on a branch. It is not necessary to trim seed/flower pods however heavy clumps can be trimmed back to allow branches to lift back up from being weighted down. For extremely tall Crepes that required heavier equipment to trim and access via a lift you will most definitely want to hire a professional company to assist you ;)
#4 - What you should not do...
Trimming back a Crepe Myrtle too much. For Trees, Lopping Crepe Myrtles to control their height does not promote for a healthy tree. This can cause unattractive stumps (knuckles) and deformations to the trees. Shoots that grow off these stumps are weakened and thin and the flowers that grow off of them are often too heave. This causes these shoots to droop. Many people dub this practice "Crepe Murder". If you think you have over trimmed or damaged your Crepe Myrtle, reach out to your local lawn care and landscape company to guide you. There are a few ways to save a tree in some cases with patience and care. They can let you know if that's possible.
#5 - Still unsure about trimming your Beautiful Crepes
You can always reach out to your local lawn care and landscape company or your local garden center. At the very least they can give you good sound advice to help you with your Crepe Myrtle Care.
Now you know how to trim your Crepe Myrtles.
Crepes Myrtles are such beautiful trees here in Eastern, North Carolina. We love seeing them in the summer when they fill the yards with such beautiful color. The question I pose to you, is do you want to though? If not, I encourage you to reach out to us and schedule a site visit to let us help you with trimming your trees and shrubs. At J&S Landscape we service our client's Crepe Myrtles, we do trim to our client's preference and needs. This tree trimming service is just an excellent enhancement to our clients to help protect the health and wellness of their trees.
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