- To produce more or better blooms and/or fruits.
- To develop or maintain a desired size or appearance of a shrub or tree. Prune to save room for an interesting variety of plants and to keep plants from becoming leggy or scraggly looking.
- To re-establish a balance between root and branch systems after transplanting.
- To train a young plant. Pruning now to encourage balanced, open growth saves effort later.
- To rejuvenate, older, neglected shrubs. Removal of old, over-crowded stems or limbs encourages the growth of vigorous young ones.
- To maintain health. Regular removal of dead or diseased wood keeps plants healthy. Maintenance pruning includes removal of dense growth to let light and air reach the inner and lower stems.
- To repair injury. Damaged wood is not only ugly but it is an open invitation to disease-causing organisms.
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- Remove dead or diseased wood asap. Make sure you don't spread diseases with your tools by disinfecting them. (See insider tool cleaning tip below).
- If you notice two branches or shoots rubbing up against each other cut one out.
- Pruning in winter is ideal to encourage new shoots and leafy growth.
- To remove unwanted shoots or limbs without stimulating too many new shoots, prune in the summer.
It's best to use rubbing alcohol and not bleach to clean and disinfect your tools. Bleach is a harsh chemical that is corrosive. It will degrade the metal over time with white pitting marks and weaken the metal. Another huge advantage to using rubbing alcohol is that it disinfects and evaporates completely. With less moisture involved, your tools are also less likely to rust.
Use these cutting edge techniques for best results.
Thinning cuts: Thinning cuts remove an entire branch or limb all the way to its origin. With small plants, you'd use your fingers and pinch away. For larger plants, you'd use hand pruners. For shrubs and trees you'd use pruning shears and a saw.
- When thinning, remove a branch, stem or small shoot completely in order to create better air circulation or to reduce crowding. Make your thinning cuts above a dormant bud. Cut at a slight angle and leave about 1/4 inch of the shoot above the bud.
Heading cuts: These cuts simply shorten a branch or stem. In contrast to thinning, this type of pruning just shortens the branch but doesn't remove it completely.
Pinching: Pinching can be a thinning or a heading cut. Typically, you'd pinch a soft growth between your thumb and forefinger. (My 4 year-old is very good at pinching and can give you some tips.) Perfect for annuals and perennials but can work with larger plants too if you pinch while their shoots are young and tender. Pruning done at an early stage is ideal because the plant can rebound quicker.
Shearing: Scissorlike pruning "shears" slice away at hedges, shrubs and bushes to keep lines straight and neat. Boxwood and yews typically get sheared. I'll be using my shears to trim up our boxwoods in the front landscaping.
The truth is, we don't have room to store all the tools we'd like to have. But if you're serious about trimming your own shrubs and trees instead of hiring out, you need to consider these below. Corona Tools sells them all, and as I already attested too, they are of the highest caliber. You will not be disappointed in your Corona long-term investment!
- Hand pruners - Typically you'd use hand pruners when you make cuts between 1/2-1 inch in diameter. I really like a good pair of pruners for roses. I'm planning to trim the roses soon while they are still dormant so I don't chop off the blooms.
- Lopper - Use loppers to cut limbs up to several inches in diameter. Jobs that are too big for my pruner get done by my lopper. One snip and I'm done! Loppers are ideal for shrubs that have gotten a little out of control over the years because they can remove the stubby and thicker older wood. Always prune up from the base of the shrub to the top, making gentle sweeping cuts. Stand back frequently to be certain you’ve not gone off track.
- Hand saw - You probably want at least one hand saw between 9 and 12 inches. If you're working with large limbs, you might need a saw between 24-36 inches with 1-2 inch saw teeth. The bigger the saws teeth and the wider the space between the teeth, the faster the saw cuts. But saws are sharp! Be careful. Besides pruning, I use my 9 pinch saw to chop my Brussels Sprouts.
- Ladder and pole pruner - Ok, I don't even own one of these because I'm somewhat afraid of heights. So I'm leaving that job to the professionals. But if you're caring for very large shade or fruit trees then you might need a pole pruner.
One pair of ComfortGEL extendable Hedge Shears (10 inch) valued at $50!
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