Pruning Tips Tools and Techniques

Pruning trees and shrubs is done while the weather is still cold because harmful insects are absent. Later when the weather warms and insects are swarming, plants are more likely to be damaged at the point of the cuts.

Spring flowering shrubs are pruned after bloom not before.

Always have a reason to make a cut. Do not whack the head off a tree or a shrub. Prune selectively to keep your investments healthy and attractive. Reasons to prune: Control size, increase strength, distribute sun, regulate fruit, renew wood, and remove undesirable wood.

Pruning defined at Onelook.

What's your favorite pruning tool?

Photo: The nectarine tree gave us what seemed like 100 pound of fruit last year. Pruning will keep it productive - hopefully.

Photo: We love the mechanism of the Fiskars Pruning Stik. It rotates to cut at wierd angles, has a 14-foot reach, no dangling rope and a mechanism that makes it easier to make good cuts.

Shrub shoots grow out from the tip. When you remove the tip of a shrub shoot, it will grow from the buds closer to the base. Growth buds are on leaf nodes, where leaves were or still are, attached to the branch.

A heading cut is done to reduce height and stimulate growth close to the cut. Make the cut one-fourth-inch from the node, above an outward facing bud to encourage the plant to grow in an outward direction.

A thinning cut removes branches at their base to make the plant less dense, allowing sun to reach the ground and air to circulate. These cuts rejuvenate a shrub and can reduce disease.

Remove dead, diseased and damaged branches by cutting down to healthy wood just above a node.

Disinfect your tools with 10 percent chlorine bleach solution, Lysol, Listerine or rubbing alcohol.

To prune shrubs with canes, such as forsythia and nandina (heavenly bamboo), remove the largest canes at the ground. Remove other canes from the center that prevent sun and air from flowing through the plant.

Mounding shrubs, such as azalea and spirea, are pruned after bloom by taking cuts from the inside of the plant at ground level.

Tree pruning is done to keep trees healthy, attractive, and productive in the case of fruit.

Remove branches that are in the way of foot or car traffic and those that grow into utility lines. Remove disease or insect-infested branches. Thin the leafy crown of trees to increase airflow.

Tree pruning cuts are made at a node where a branch or twig attaches to the trunk or another branch.

Removing lower branches, or crown raising, has to be done carefully. Lower branches help prevent trunk sunscald.

Make cuts as close as possible, just outside the branch bark ridge and branch collar. If you cut too far away and leave a stub, the plant takes longer to heal. Making cuts flush with the trunk causes permanent wounds.

Consider purchasing new tools if yours are too old to make clean cuts without exhausting your arms.

Fiskars and other brand tools are readily available in a variety of styles and designs, including ergonomic designs to ease body stress from pruning.

Bypass pruners have a curved blade that bypasses the other blade like scissors. Anvil pruners have one cutting edge that closes against an anvil. Use bypass for wood that is alive and anvil for old or dead growth.

Loppers have larger handles and blades to cut branches 2-inches thick. Look for the ones with gears since they are easier on wrists, shoulders and arms.

It is impossible to trim trees without a pole pruner or saw. Fiskars has a Pruning Stik with a cutting head that rotates so you can cut at any angle, 14-feet up. It has a belt and chain mechanism to make a clean cut without dangling ropes to get in the way.

Air healing works best; do not dress cuts. Clean cuts at the right place with sharp tools will keep your landscape healthy and your fruit trees productive.

We are making progress - about half the pruning is completed for this year. How are you doing?


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