A Little Nip Tuck: The Art of Pruning

May 07, 2018
Categories: Garden

We all know that it’s important to prune the plants in our yard or garden, but if you don’t have a lot of experience it can be a very intimidating process. We’re de-mystifying this important gardening task today with some tips, tricks, and tools for pruning in your yard and garden.

Why is pruning important? Before you dive into pruning, it’s important to know why you’re doing it. Pruning to remove dead or diseased limbs can help prevent insects or disease from invading your plants. And, of course, it helps keep your plant looking nice and well-groomed!

Now that you know why you need to do it, let’s talk about how.

5 Quick Tips for Pruning

  1. Start with any dead or diseased limbs, or limbs that cross over one another.

  2. When pruning dead or diseased limbs, be sure to cut below the diseased portion of the limb. Bonus tip: Don’t prune diseased limbs if it’s wet outside - the moisture can help spread the disease!

  3. After you’ve cut back dead or diseased branches, move to training cuts. These are the cuts that will help train the plant to grow in the shape you want it to be. Cut back areas that are too tall or encroach on walking space, but be careful not to cut back too much.  

  4. Flowers should be deadheaded once the blooms are spent. This means that once the flower has begun to wilt, you should prune it off (cut at an angle!) to allow for new growth.

  5. Be sure to make any cuts close to buds without cutting the newly-formed buds off. Cuts that are made too far away from buds will leave an unattractive dead stub.

Best Tools for Pruning

For great results, the proper pruning equipment is vital.  The best part is that a few tools will get you long way for most of your trimming needs.

  • Pruning shears: This small, one-handed tool is meant to cut stems up to ½” thick - if you attempt to cut anything thicker than that, you can damage the shears.

  • Lopping shears: Also referred to as loppers, these are slightly larger and require two hands. Lopping shears are used for thicker branches - high-quality ones can cut branches that are 2” or even thicker.

  • Hedge shears: These are generally used specifically for shearing hedges or bushes into formal shapes. You can buy both hand-operated and power-operated versions of these, and they’re great for things like boxwoods where a specific shape is desired.

More Pruning Resources: