There are four basic pruning cuts, each aimed at producing a different effect. Select the bud you want to keep and cut just beyond it. A second time to prune is in late summer. Plants such as cinquefoil, which bear flowers on leafy new growth formed in spring, can safely be pruned while dormant. It's typically done on annual and perennial flowers and on some vegetables. Plants chosen for this treatment typically have many lateral buds close together, so you'll usually end up cutting near a bud. For cuts that involve cutting above a growth bud, make your cut as shown at left above. (If the branch angle is very narrow, cut upward from the bottom to avoid cutting into the branch collar.). Has the tree been pruned recently? Start Training Your Plant Prune after bloom for evergreens flowering on last season's growth; prune before spring growth begins for those that bloom on new growth. Prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs in winter or early spring, before new growth emerges. These guidelines are most pertinent to climates with four distinct seasons and definite winter chill. Lopping Shears: For use on branches up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Pruning makes sense when you understand the role and locations of growth buds. The resulting growth will vary depending on the bud. And because growth will soon start, your pruning cuts will stimulate new growth in the direction you want. Proper tree-pruning and shrub-pruning helps: Maintain Safety: Remove low-growing branches if they impede passing vehicles or obscure oncoming traffic from view. Contact a professional arborist to address these issues or if you're unsure about the tree’s overall health: Hand Shears: Use for branches up to 1/4 inch in diameter. Produce More Flowers or Fruits: Flowering plants and some fruit trees are pruned to increase the yield of blossoms and fruit, and to improve their quality. Pinching is one of the easiest ways to prune without cutting: You simply pinch off a terminal bud with your thumb and forefinger. Direct Growth: Pruning influences the direction in which a plant grows: Each time you make a cut, you stop growth in one direction and encourage it in another. The branch should split cleanly between the two cuts. Scissor-type shears make tight, close cuts on plants. Think about why you want to prune. Use handheld or electric hedge shears for this kind of pruning. This principle is important to keep in mind when you train young trees to develop a strong branching structure. And because growth is slower at this time of year, pruning is less likely to stimulate new growth — an advantage when you're thinning. Regular pruning enhances the look and health of your garden. Once heavy frosts have abated, the plants are less likely to suffer cold damage at the point where you make your cuts. Pinching. Heading means cutting farther back on the shoot than you would for pinching. Use handheld pruners, loppers or a pruning saw to make thinning cuts, depending on the thickness of the branch being cut. You'll need, for example, to remove spent flowers from roses throughout their bloom time. Remove the Diseased. Hand shears are ideal for pruning hydrangeas. This stops the stem from elongating and encourages bushy growth. 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For now, feel free to continue reading. For some fruit trees, you'll make many small, precise cuts each dormant season. Although this sort of pruning sometimes ranks as a tedious chore, remember that your efforts will pay off in lavish bloom and generous crops of fruit at harvest time. Remove crossing branches and branches that grow back towards the center of the tree. Shrubs. How to Prune Shrubs and Trees 1. Use a sharp pruning saw and make these three cuts as described below: About a foot from the branch collar, make a cut from the underside approximately a third of the way through. Before you begin, you want to consider what you are trying to achieve and set your goals. If you find anything, be sure to... 3. Shearing stimulates many buds to produce new growth; you'll be repeating the job regularly after you start. Promote Plant Health: Trees and shrubs stay healthier if you remove branches that are diseased, dead, pest-ridden or rubbing together. Because you remove a number of lateral buds along with the stem or branch, you're less likely to wind up with clusters of unwanted shoots than you would when making heading cuts. In the fall or early spring, use your shears to cut back all dead growth to the ground. Next, look for anything diseased growing on the tree or shrub. Remove What is Dead or Dying. Hedge Shears: Often used for shrub trimming, hedge shears help to shape the plant and snip new growth. Deciduous plants are still bare, so you can easily spot broken and awkwardly growing branches and decide how to direct growth.  X Research source Your reasons for pruning will influence when you prune as well. If you do, an early frost may damage the plant at the point of the cuts. Buy shears with lightweight handles for easy use. Some gardeners like to thin plants in summer because it's easier to see how much thinning is really needed when branches still have thick foliage. Each of the steps below can be applied to your specific pruning need. Remove Undesirable Growth: Prune out unwanted growth periodically. Make the final cut by placing the saw beside the branch bark ridge and cutting downward just outside the branch collar. For flowering broadleaf evergreens, however, timing is a bit more precise; you'll need to prune with an eye toward preserving flower buds. Learn how to prune roses, trees and shrubs. Cut out wayward branches, take out thin growth, remove suckers (stems growing up from the roots) and water sprouts (upright shoots growing from the trunk and branches).
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