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Useful Ideas, Tips and Best Practices concerning landscape and garden design, xeriscape and hardscape design, construction, installation and maintenance in the Dallas and surrounding  North Texas area. For more information, call 214.987.0006. 

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Opinions are varied on this annual Texas ritual practiced by individual residents and landscape and lawn maintenance companies of dramatically trimming the much-loved flowering Crape Myrtle. Some say this is a drastic procedure, others say the pruning is much-maligned. 

Opinion Pro: In favor of seasonal trimming of the Crape Myrtle:

  1. Early spring is the best time to prune Crape Myrtles

  2. Whenever you prune you cause the tree to generate new growth

  3. Fall pruning is not recommended as it creates an unattractive appearance and removes the present growth as a buffer against winter damage

  4. Pruning can be used to restore overgrown Crape Myrtles gradually over a 3-year period so that it continues to bloom. Begin by cutting the tree two feet below the height of where you want the blooms.

  5. Merciful pruning is sometimes the best decision when crossed branches rub and leave the wounds open for disease.

  6. Additionally, pruning of lower branches allow the canopy to raise and expand.

  7.  Inner branches of the tree may be removed to provide a cleaner, more-shapely appearing tree.

  8. If you do see something that calls for pruning, study the tree carefully and determine what needs to be pruned to accomplish the specific purpose identified.

Opinion Con: Generally against seasonal pruning of Crape Myrtle:

  1. Crape myrtles will occasionally need pruning to obtain the desired landscape effect, but many times these plants are butchered for no good reason.

  2. According to Dan Gill, LSU Ag Center Horticulturist, an unfortunate trend in crape myrtle pruning is to lop off their tops, which results in a tree reduced to large branches ending in stubs. The lush growth that occurs at these cut sites appears vigorous but is actually structurally weak and more susceptible to fungus diseases such as powdery mildew.

  3. And when pruning is conducted improperly over several years, unsightly large, swollen knobs form at the point where pruning is done each year.

  4. Many varieties have beautiful bark and growth habits that can be enjoyed all year if trees are not heavily pruned.

  5. Once top trimming is done, it ruins the tree’s graceful natural shape for the rest of its life.

  6. Many people say they need to cut a crape myrtle back because of its size. If the height of the crape myrtle is not causing a problem with a nearby structure or power lines, there is little reason to reduce the tree’s height. To cut a crape myrtle back for the vague reason of “it just seems too large” ignores the fact that these plants are trees. They are supposed to be large.

If you think that your Crape Myrtle needs trimming, now is the time to contact us at Art That Grows. Send us a message using the form below,  email to or call to Art That Grows at 214-987-0006.


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