Why Prune? It is
important to have clear objectives of what you want to accomplish before
you start pruning. Understanding how plants respond and the proper
time to prune is essential (see When
It is important to know
which tools to use to make the correct pruning cuts (see Pruning
Tools). Pruning is the
oldest and easiest way to control the size, growth, beauty and health of
your plants and to renew or increase production.
Prune diseased, dead or
damaged wood to maintain healthy plants. When cutting out diseased
wood such as fungal cankers or fire blight, the cut must be made in
good, healthy wood, below the point of infection, with a sterile cutting
When planting a tree or
shrub, you should prune to remove broken, pest-infested or crossing
Garden Gang's Pruning Primer.
Pruning Needs Of A Tree
branches - Unsightly and possibly
Diseased branches - Removal isolates disease-causing organisms.
Crowded branches - Removal increases light and raw materials to
Non-symmetrical - Removal improves appearance.
an unwanted branch in such a way as to leave the shortest possible stub,
and preferably flush with the remaining branch.
Back increases the density of
the plant and makes it more sturdy. Thinning will make
a plant grow taller and more open.
the thumb and forefinger frequently pinch back soft growth throughout the
growing season to avoid future pruning, to redirect growth and to increase
the density of the plant. Pinching is also useful for disbudding flowers
and thinning fruit.
all broken, diseased and crisscrossing branches. Remove a part of each
long shoot that may spoil the shape of the shrub, and prune down to ground
level about one-third of the oldest branches.
The Correct Bud
near a lateral (side) bud that is pointing in the direction that you want
the subsequent branch to grow. Cutting of a terminal (end) bud will cause
the nearest lateral bud to inherit its strength and direction.
the branch below where the cut is to be made. Cut at a slant in the
direction you want the new branch to grow.
The Cut In
Relation To Buds
slanted - Exposes too much surface
area to damage.
Too long - Can cause dieback of the stub.
Too short - Will interfere with bud growth.
Ideal - Cut from opposite the base of the bud slanting upward to the
a 3-cut technique to avoid damage to a tree by splitting. Cut at (1) under
the limb, then at (2) above and further out to remove the limb, and at (3)
to remove the stub. The heaviest limbs may be supported by a rope. Always
use proper safety procedures.
hedges narrower at the top to allow sunlight to reach the bottom
foliage. This will keep the hedge thick and bushy.
Always prune away dead,
broken and diseased portions of a plant at any time.
Cover cuts of 1 1/2"
diameter or more with a protective wood compound.
In general, prune weak
plants hard and vigorous plants lightly.
For safety and ease of
pruning, use the correct tool for the job.
Keep your tools sharp and
clean. Clean cuts heal quicker.
Make a cut only with a
good reason and with an understanding of what your cut will produce.
Always use proper safety
equipment when pruning
Don't leave ragged cuts or
Don't use hedge shears for
Don't prune with sprung,
dull or improper tools.
Don't do all your pruning
at the same time.
Don't expect pruning to
compensate for defects caused by overcrowding, poor soil conditions,
improper climate, etc.
Don't assume that every
good gardener is a good pruner. Check out casual advice before you
Don't climb trees! The
hazards far outweigh the benefits. Call a professional, or use a
long-handled pole tree trimmer.