How, What, Why and When to Prune?

importance of pruningIf you want your plants to grow well and keep their shape, then pruning is essential. We want to show you how to make sure your trees and shrubs are properly pruned.

The Importance of Pruning

When a tree or shrub is well maintained, it is more attractive and it is much healthier. That’s two great reasons right there to start pruning the foliage on your property. Pruning offers a few different benefits:

  • It keeps your yard safe. Trees and shrubs that are not pruned can drop branches on the yard and create hazards for passers-by.
  • It also helps plants to continue growing, even after they have become overgrown and neglected.
  • It can direct the growth of the plant as well, as you can decide where the tree or shrub will continue growing.
  • It definitely improves plant health as you get rid of diseased or dead limbs to make way for new growth.
  • It also allows for widespread flowering, causing your tree or shrub to yield more blossoms.

The Best Time to Prune

If you prune at the wrong time, you may not damage your plants, but you could hurt your fruit or flower yield for that year. It is best to prune plants just after the flowers have begun to fade. So those that bloom in the summer should be pruned in the winter or in the early spring.

This applies specifcially to areas that have four distinct seasons. In areas that have warmer winters, you will need to alter your pruning period based on where the plant is native.

Spring Pruning

Most plants do best when they are pruned in late winter or in early spring. This allows them to avoid potential cold damage and to maximize their growing period. Before you prune any flowering plants, you ought to know when the new growth begins. If you prune before dormancy is broken, then you could end up losing flowers. If you are taking off any heavy branches, be sure to cut off a stub before you cut the branch off. That way, you won’t accidently rip off the bark.

You should make three distinct cuts. The first one needs to be about a foot from the branch collar. Cut a third of the way into the branches on the underside.

The second cut should be about an inch out from there. You will want to cut all he way through.

The third cut should be at the branch bark ridge, cutting downward. This should give you a clean cut.

Summer Pruning

It’s a good idea to prune in the summer as well. This is an ideal time, since you will be able to see how much thinning is necessary. The plant won’t be growing as much, so you won’t be likely to stimulate new growth, which is helpful for thinning.

Pruning Cuts

There are four primary pruning cuts that all have different purposes.

The first cut is called pinching, and it involves no real cutting at all. You just pinch off with your thumb your forefinger any terminal buds. This helps the tree grow out bushier.

A heading cut is farther back than pinching, and it is a cut made just above the leaf on a lateral bud. You can use hand-held pruners for this.

Shearing refers to hedge trimming, as you will be cutting the hedge into a square or round shape. You won’t be cutting the buds with this method, though.

Thinning cuts get rid of most of the plant’s bulk. Each cut you make is used to get rid of an entire branch or stem. You will be cutting them back to their origin point. This should hep get rid of unwanted shoot clusters. You can make this cut with loppers, hand-held pruners or a pruning saw.

The Tools of the Trade

You’ll need the right tools for the job if you are going to do some effective pruning.

Hand shears are ideal for cutting anything up to a quarter inch around. You can make some very precise cuts with scissor shears, and you ought to test the shears out to make sure they are comfortable before you purchase them.

Lopping shears are best for cutting branches that are 1 ½ inches around. You want a pair of shears that has lightweight handle, and go with extendable handles for those hard to reach places.

You can use pruning saws for branches that are thicker than 1 ½ inches. You will be able to prune safely with the powerful teeth in these saws.

Pole pruners work well for branches more than an inch thick that are farther away than your arm can reach.

Hedge shears work best for shaping the shrubs and getting rid of new growth.

Author bio: – Ben Scoble from Centaur Tree Services

Author: John Clax

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