Lane ranger: Opinions differ on pruning crape myrtles on busy avenue


Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 10:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 10:48 p.m.

Sometimes driving is much more pleasant if the scenery is nice. But opinions on how best to maintain the beauty of scenery can differ.

Brenda V. Robinson of Gainesville recently wrote about crape myrtles, a tree planted in many medians around town. Typically at this time of year, Robinson said in an email, crape myrtles are severely pruned to prepare for new growth through the summer. But that hasn’t been done on Northwest 16th Avenue between 13th and 34th streets.

“These trees are ragged, filled with Spanish moss, and haven’t had any pruning/maintenance in a long time. What’s up?” Robinson said.

Alachua County is in charge of the maintenance of that road. County horticulturist Heather Martin said the severe pruning of crape myrtles commonly seen in the winter months is not an approved practice by the International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA, nor is it recommended by the University of Florida.

“In fact, this severe pruning (also called topping or crape murder) is actually a code violation in some areas of Florida,” Martin said in an email.

“Alachua County performs an annual light trimming of the crape myrtles on 16th Ave. in accordance with ISA standards and UF guidelines. This includes the removal of dead branches, lower branches which may impede traffic, and sucker sprouts at the base of the trees. Large clumps of Spanish moss are usually removed at this time as well.”

Martin provided a link to UF guidelines regarding crape myrtles: http://www.pbgfl.com/filestorage/74/118/1348/1340/3835/UF-Crape_Myrtle_Pruning-EP39900.pdf.

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