Pruning is an essential gardening skill. Proper pruning can encourage healthy growth and flowering of plants. For most shrubs and trees, it helps to prune at the right time. Some are best pruned in winter; some right after flowering.
Must-Have Pruning Tools
- These are probably the most-used tools when it comes to pruning shrubs, flowers, vines, and small growth on trees. Pruning shears are hand-held and can cut branches and twigs up to ¾ of an inch thick.
- Great for branches up to 2 ½ inches thick and are especially useful for pruning fruit trees, nut trees, and vines. This tool is really similar to a pair of hand shears but the blades are thicker and the handle is much longer. Loppers also come in anvil, bypass and ratchet styles.
- A pruning saw is a tool with the same sharp teeth as saws used for cutting lumber. But pruning saws are intended for trimming live shrubs and trees.
- Pole pruners are a strange tool, with the cutting power of hand pruners but a reach of 8 feet and more. You use them when you have small things to cut that you can’t reach.
- Hedge shears are large scissor-like devices measuring 12 to 28 inches in length. Handles may be wood or metal with rubber grips. Blades may be straight-edged, curved, serrated, or wavy.
Basic Pruning Techniques
- Heading back: Increases the density of the plant and makes it’s sturdier.
- Thinning: Increases the plant’s height and makes it more open.
Other Pruning Tips
- Prune away dead, broken, and diseased plants at any time available.
- Prune weak plants hard and vigorous plants lightly.
- Make sure to use the correct tools for safety and ease of pruning.
- Keep your tools sharp and clean.
- Make a cut only with a good reason and with an understanding of what your cut will produce.
- NEVER leave ragged cuts.
- NEVER use hedge shears for GENERAL pruning.
- Do not do all your pruning at the same time
- Pruning never compensates for defects caused by overcrowding, poor soil conditions, or improper climate.
Pruning is regarded as one of the most intimidating aspects of gardening. Scared of making any mistakes, some people avoid it. But the main reason for pruning is to create and preserve the good structure of the plant. This way, the plant can increase fruit and flower production, improve health, and enhance aesthetics.
Do you do your own pruning? Tell us about your pruning experiences.
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