Crab Tree Pruning

Asked June 28, 2019, 12:24 PM EDT

I have three crab trees on my lawn. When I planted these 20 years ago they were far apart. Now they have grown close together and the canopy in combination with the roots rising above the soil have just about killed all of the grass under the trees. I recently heard of the term, “Limbing-Up”. If I did this would it help improve the viability of the grass under the trees? Can I trim crab trees at this time? Thank You . Steve Johnson Johnston

Iowa County Iowa

1 Response

It is difficult to grow grass under large crabapples. Very little light penetrates the tree canopy. Plus, the tree's roots compete with turfgrass roots for water and nutrients. Growing conditions within the dripline of the crabapples are not favorable for the growth of turfgrass.

I would be inclined to accept the fact that grass won't grow under the crabapples. The area beneath the trees could be mulched with 2 to 3 inches of wood chips.

Mid-summer is a good time to prune crabapples and most other deciduous trees. Oaks should not be pruned in spring, summer, or early fall.