Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crape Myrtle Cutdown: Just Say No

There were a lot of other “m” words I wanted to use in this post title (one of them is really similar to “myrtle”), but none of them is family friendly as far as searches go, so I’ll stick with what I got.

This time of year with all of the plants and trees blooming makes me think about the beautiful crape myrtles I had several years back. The ones with the really tall trunks. They are still in my yard, but they will never be the same. In the middle of their formally beautiful trunks are now knots just below the multiple branches that they were forced to grow. They experienced Crape Myrtle Cutdown to the extreme.

Brad had some guys come work in my yard one day while I was at school (back when I was teaching). I came home to the guys finishing up their work. The first thing I noticed was my crape myrtles. Or the lack thereof.

My crape myrtles, that were as tall as my house had been completely chopped off at about waist level. Where they were chopped was right in the middle of the nice trunks that had gorgeous peeling bark just as a crape myrtle should. There was no rhyme or reason to where they were chopped. None.

crape11This is pretty much what mine looked like. Remember, they were probably over 20 feet tall before the massacre! Photo from

I was furious. I was irate. I don’t know that I’ve ever been that mad. I get upset about stuff sometimes, and I’ll complain, but I usually don’t get mad. This time, I was mad. I blessed those boys up and down for cutting down my trees. I really showed my rear.

I’ll be honest and say that I used to think topping them was how one was supposed to prune crape myrtles. But I saw the beauty of an non-topped crape myrtle, and I was forever changed. I miss my beautiful crape myrtles with three long trunks extending to the sky. Now mine have somewhat recovered, but they have ugly knots where they were chopped down by those mean boys.

6a00e55131bf2a883301310fb1b78a970c-800wiThis is what many many crape myrtles look like. What a shame. Photo from The Grumpy Gardener.

One of the guys insisted that crape myrtles were supposed to be cut that way – that he had worked for a landscaper and that’s how they did it. You better bet that I informed him that his landscaper was WRONG. And then I yelled some more. It was not one of my finest moments, but I’ll tell you that to this day when I look at those trees, I still remember how beautiful they used to be. I don’t think I’ll ever be over what happened to them.

Why would I want this?

crepe myrtles (3)

When I could have THIS?!

crepe_myrtle_91308Photo from here.

And yes, they are just trees. I realize this. In the big scheme of things, what happened makes no difference, and this is just another one of those situations where I totally overreacted. I don’t lose sleep over them – nor have I ever – but you know, it’s just one of those things that I think about when I see someone else who has Crape Myrtle Cutdown in their yard.

31pruning3_t300This could have been taken on our city’s main street. So sad.

I found great blog post on the whys and whynots of crape myrtle pruning – with pictures. I would also like to point you to Southern Living’s instructions on how to prune a crape myrtle: Stop! Don't Chop Crape Myrtles! Here is another Southern Living article on crape myrtle pruning: Crape Murder. If you need another example with good pictures, try this one. Check these out -- you might just get to teach your landscaper how to say NO to Crape Myrtle Cutdown! It might be too late this year, but you can so do it next year!

Sidenote: I read up on the spelling too. Evidently both crape and crepe are accepted, but crape is the older English version of the word and is used by most horticulture people.


Cow Pies & Mud Pies said...

Oh. My. Gosh.

I see why you were/are so sad, mad and NOT glad.

Candi James said...

Very interesting Ashley. I will be honest that I have always pruned ours sometime in February....but I can certainly understand your point too!

BTW! I had a ball par-TAY-ing with your mom this past weekend.

I am very proud of you and the nursing future that lies ahead.