Tips for Garden Pruning

An essential gardening skill that homeowners must learn is pruning. The what, where and how questions regarding ways to prune your garden is a must know to encourage healthy growth in trees, flowering plants and also in enhancing their look. It helps to prune plants at the right time and in their seasons as some are best prunes right after flowering and some during the winter. There is however no other gardening chore that strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners than the idea of pruning plants. But if done correctly, pruning can be one among the most satisfying of gardening tasks because the effort which comes out of the results will be spectacular. Pruning will definitely yield good results like lush foliage, abundant flowers and healthy looking fruits and vegetables. 

For whatever type or variety of plants you have in your garden, the first thing to do is to determine if you have the best tools for the pruning job at hand. Clean and sharp tools are crucial for the health of the plants and also make it easier to prune. For the job of pruning right, there are four basic tools which are required. They are saws, shearers, hand pruners and loppers. 

Even if the process of pruning appears to be difficult, the underlying fact is that they may not be as complicated compared to other gardening tasks. It’s all about learning the right techniques and methods for each type of flowering plant. Good gardeners will always know the distinct differences in pruning each type of plant and what it needs for proper growth. The factors that must be taken into consideration are the right lighting requirements, the amount of nutrients and the quality of soil. The whole trick lies in knowing what to prune when. If pruning is done at the wrong time of year, it may lead to less production of fruits and flowers, but rarely harms the plant in the long run. Pruning done during the late season will encourage new growth of tender shoots which will get killed back during the onset of the cold months.

You can take the mystery out of pruning your plants by following these simple tips and tricks for each type and variety:
  • Remove dead and damaged stems as soon as you notice them. They will attract insects and invite diseases to develop in the plant.
  • Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs right after they finish blooming which is usually during late spring. If you prune them during the onset of winter, then amount of spring bloom will be reduced as the flower buds are removed. You can remove some of old shoots all the way to the ground to keep the plant flowering vigorously.
  • Prune summer blooming trees and shrubs during the winter as they will be in a dormant condition or during early spring when they start to push out new growth. They will bloom in summer even if you cut them all the way to the ground. You can save time and effort to remove stems all the way to the base of the plant by using a pole pruner with a rotating head. This particular method will save you from a lot of bending and leaning over for each cut.
  • Hedges should be sheared frequently during the early stage of the growing phase to maintain a solid wall of green. You need to keep the top half of the hedge narrower than the base so that the upper branches don’t overlap and shade the lower ones. Shearing can be stopped at least six weeks before your region’s first frost.
  • Prune roses and climbers only after they finish blooming. If they overgrow, you can always cut them back during early spring. You can also remove winter damaged canes during that time.
  • Prune shade trees during the winter when they are dormant as it’s easy to see the branching structure and also prevent the spread of diseases a result of the pruning wounds. Trees called the bleeders produce a heavy amount of sap flow in winter and may look unsightly, but won’t cause harm to the tree. You can wait until the leaves are fully expanded during summer to avoid the bleeding while pruning these species.
  • Prune fruit trees during mid winter to allow in more light and get maximum fruit even if some of the flower buds are removed and the blooming is reduced. For some trees, dormant pruning is important as pruning wounds got during the growing season will expose the tree to bacterial diseases. You can control the spread of diseases by dipping the shears in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water or by rubbing alcohol before pruning.
  • Prune broadleaf evergreen in early spring just before you can see the growth spurt. A good way to save on holiday decorations would be to snip off a few branches for winter greenery in your home.
  • Prune needle-leaf evergreens early in the growing season. You should avoid cutting back wood that has no green needles as it may not sprout new growth. During mid winter you can trim a few branches for some holiday greenery indoors.
  • Prune pines only during the candle stage when the new shoots turn woody and the needles have fully expanded. Only a portion of the new growth must be pruned by removing upto half of the expanding candle.
  • Prune perennial flowers when they have become faded. This process is called deadheading as many perennials will produce another cycle of blooms during this time.
  • Prune annual flowers by removing the old ones and preventing them from setting seed. This allows the plants to put more energy into another cycle for fresh blooms.
  • Prune berries based on the type like cane berries and bush berries. All three have stems that maintain a constant supply of wood. The old ones need to be cut off at ground level after they completely finish bearing fruit as they won’t produce again. Grapes on the other hand need extensive pruning throughout the year to keep them productive and growing vigorously. Prune them close to lateral arms every year during the dormant season so that it produces the best fruit.