How to Prune Your Trees

Many people feel that pruning your trees and shrubs is a difficult and confusing process. But it really isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next pruning session:

Use the Right Tool
It is far easier to use the correct tool for the job. Be sure that your tools are sharp as this will be safer for you and healthier for the plant that you are pruning.

• Hand Pruners-Depending on the size, these can be used for branches up to ¾” in diameter.

• Lopping Shears-These are best used on branches which are ¾” to 1 ¼” in diameter.

• Pruning Saws-This tool should be used on branches which are larger than 1 ¼” in diameter.

Follow the Steps in Chronological Order

• Remove any branches which are dead, broken or diseased.

• Remove any branches that crisscross, any water sprouts and any weak crotches.

• Thin out as needed. This will encourage blossoming and increase the air circulation of the plant.

• If necessary, prune to shape and reduce the size of the tree or shrub.

Other Helpful Tips

• Remember that what you leave is the most important, not what you actually remove.

• You should make all of your cuts above the union of a branch or a bud that grows in the direction you desire.

• Do not ever leave a stub.

• Leave the collar of the branch intact when pruning large branches back to the trunk area.

• You should never “top” a tree. This will result in growth that is rapid and weakened. You will end up with “witches’ brooms”.

• Remember that how much you prune will directly influence the re-growth. Light pruning will equal light re-growth and heavy pruning will equal heavy re-growth.

• Pruning in the spring will produce more breaks and re-growth than pruning in the summer.

• Prune your spring blooming shrubs right after blooming. This will encourage blossoming the next year.

• Prune apple trees and pear trees to the modified central leader. Stone fruit trees should be pruned to open the center.

• Shear your hedges in a slightly pyramidal shape to keep them full to the ground. Do not prune in an inverted pyramid shape.

• Pruning sealers are really not necessary. However, they do help to prevent the entry of borers on roses.

• Remember that pruning and disease control go together. One should not be done without the other.

• Sterilize your pruners between plants, using a 10 % bleach solution. Sterilize your pruners between each cut if fire blight or another disease is suspected. This will aid in not spreading the disease. Rinse your pruners after use to avoid corrosion.

Following these suggestions will help you to have beautiful and healthy trees and shrubs. Please share any other pruning tips that you may have learned over the years.