How to properly prune trees and shrubs
Trimming trees and shrubs isn’t the most fun activity, but most gardeners accept it as a necessary task that keeps trees and shrubs attractive and healthy.
Take your time, apply yourself, and remember that a sloppy job can cause damage that could last for years. Before you get started, here are some tips that will definitely help you.
What to do :
First, use the right tools. Pruning trees and shrubs requires quality pruning shears and shears, and you may need hedge shears, handsaw, pole saw or lopper. A chainsaw is often needed when the job is tougher. However, not everyone has one or knows how to properly use this type of tool. Do not hesitate to ask for help!
Keep your tools clean and sharp, since a dull cutting tool is more likely to tear plant tissue, creating an entry point for disease and insects. If you’re concerned about introducing disease, clean your tools with a disinfectant cloth between cuts, or soak them in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. You can also use rubbing alcohol containing 70% isopropyl alcohol straight from the container.
Find out when it is advisable to prune a particular type of tree/shrub. Some trees and shrubs should be pruned before new growth appears in the spring. However, for others, it is better to prune towards the end of spring or the beginning of summer, or even in autumn or at the beginning of the cold season.
Wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, quality work gloves and safety glasses. If the task is larger and more risky, wearing a hard hat may be useful.
Finally, angle your cuts to prevent moisture buildup, which could lead to problems.
What not to do :
Don’t prune a tree or shrub if it’s not necessary, and don’t overdo it either. There are many good reasons to prune: to remove dead, damaged, dying or unhealthy growing branches (e.g. intersecting branches), and to promote health or improve the appearance of a tree/shrub.
Do not remove more than 25% of a plant’s leaf mass each year, even for young trees or shrubs.
Do not prune a tree or shrub the first year unless a branch is dead or damaged. Newly planted plants are already under enough stress.
Do not undertake anything too complex unless you know exactly what you are doing. Never prune a tree that is near a power line, and never use a chainsaw while on a ladder. Difficult and dangerous tasks are best left to an expert!