crape myrtle trimming?

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by williams lcm, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. williams lcm

    williams lcm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,200

    I always trim crape myrtles in early March. I have seen many LCO'S trimming them now. When is the best time to trim them back? I was always told to wait unitl the risk of a freeze is over.
  2. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,253

    I not sure about the freeze thing, I always try to get them cleaned up while doing other fall cleanup work. I am not a fan of hacking them off head high and leavig big knuckles on the ends which is very common around here. Most trimming if done right can be done with a pair of felcos. For the most part they are indestructable I've watched other LCOs cut them off at the ground to have them return the next year so you should be good to do it know.
  3. rreyn1812

    rreyn1812 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 444

    I always trim mine at the end of Feb, or beginning of March. This is what is recommended by our state horticulturist. Seen a lot of LCOs cutting them back over the last couple of months. It's hard to hurt a crepe myrtle too much. I have some that are planted way too close to a house and the new growth in spring and summer are just all over the roof and siding, so I will selectively trim those once or twice over the summer. Some customers want theirs severely trimmed, and other just want them cleaned up some and allowed to grow large, so that also gets factored in.
  4. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638


    I would recommend a mid to late Feb. trimming of crepes in our area. The reason is that our statistical last freeze date is around March 15. This means that if you trim during the period mentioned that it is unlikely that the tree/plant will not produce new tender growth until after the no freeze date.

    The guys you see trimming know are usually large commercial crews....this are the same guys that if you watch are trimming 10 foot crepes with chainsaws for some reason, so that out to tell you something.
  5. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    Here's the problem. A lot of people want them done the minute they start dropping foliage. And they want them whacked. Even though I would prefer to do them later, and just take the tops off if anything, customers are set in their ways. If they had ever lost a tree to improper pruning, maybe you could tell them otherwise. But the fact is, it's a crepe myrtle and you are not going to hurt it.

    Bottom line, if you have cut your crepe myrtles before now, you are probably going to have to go back and cut growth off of them again, because I am sure it's sprouted new growth.
  6. All that really needs to be done is 1.) remove crossing branches 2.) remove broken/decayed branches.
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  7. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    I agree with you on this, however, telling a client that you are not going to trim them until later and essentially not trimming them at all (in their eyes) are two different wars. Some clients you can get away with just doing the selective pruning as they will never notice, others are so set in their ways you will never get through to them, so you choose your battles.
  8. johnsonslawnmanagement

    johnsonslawnmanagement LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 908

    Trimming CM's now is dangerous due to freezing temps in Janurary. You will expeirnece some branches that freeze and die and sometimes whole limbs or trucks that freeze. We "trim" in late Feburary. I say "trim" meaning: removal of crossing/dead branches, removal of limbs growing towards the center of the tree, and removal of seed pods from the tops. Removing the seed pods pacifies most uneducated ppl to thinking you have butchered their CM's like they want. I explain my process to any who question me and I also give them a "guide to proper Crape Myrtle trimming" flier from the local university extension office. It's "monkey see monkey do" for most homeowners so once one "crape murders" his the others follow suit. Educating the public is part of our job.
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  9. yamadooski

    yamadooski LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 434

    Its sad to see that 99% of the lawn care people actually dont really know what they are doing. The few here from the northern states actually trim them the right way.
    Most Florida lawn guys do the "Crepe Murder"
    There are actually little over 100 different varieties of Crepes. A good landscaper will ask the customer what they intend the purpose of that Crepe is for and put in the right size one.
    Putting the correct one in will result in only trimming the little round balls off after it flowers.
  10. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    My 2 cent is going to be totally different than the general consensus. I trim back crape myrtles in Oct right after they lose their leaves. The reason is more because they are ugly sticks all winter long that I don't want to see.

    Last several years the Road & Right a Ways have been landscaped using a lot of Crape Myrtle. IMHO Crape Myrtle is the worst choose they could have picked. Oh Sure all summer long they are the Lilac of the south. But come Oct and they nothing more than dead stricks. We get most of our tourists etc in the Winter months and all they see are those dead Sticks.


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