DIY (Do It Yourself) Guide – Guide to Pruning Shrubs and Trees

Keeping your garden healthy by pruning shrubs & trees

As a person who likes gardening and has probably grown many types of trees and shrubs, you would desire to know how best to care for your plants and the most effective method of keeping a garden healthy. With this in mind, having a good knowledge of why pruning shrubs and trees is essential as well as how and when to prune is something that every good gardener should aspire to. Listed are just a few facts about pruning shrubs and trees:

  • Pruning stimulates growth. It is especially desirable with old plants that have slowed in producing branches or with sections that are weak and not apparently growing well.
  • Shape and size; some trees and shrubs may grow out of proportion and require pruning. In some circumstance, pruning is undertaken to provide shape and form making the garden much more appealing
  • Pruning is actually essential for the health of the plant. Through pruning, injured, dead, and diseased branches are removed eliminating any potential problems to the whole plant.

pruning treeFor a gardener, these are very important factors to take into consideration but pruning as noted needs to be performed correctly so that it is beneficial to the plant. It requires having specific knowledge of the shrub or tree to obtain satisfactory results there are almost some general guidelines to follow.

Pruning Shrubs

It may come as a surprise to you after what has just been said to hear that not all shrubs needs pruning.  The decision to prune a plant or not much depends on its nature, how it is growing, and should be assessed taking into consideration individual species and the characteristics as mentioned.  Generally, plants should be pruned when they are dormant. This gives the plant enough time to heal before becoming active. Another advantage is that for some shrubs during the resting period, there are not that much leaves and makes it easier.  Pruning in the wrong period can also be very damaging for a shrub.  For example; plants blossoming in the spring would have buds made during the previous season. Pruning during

winter, you may be cutting all the flower buds therefore preventing the shrub from flowering properly. Pruning shrubs requires knowledge therefore of the perfect timing. It is considered individual for each type of shrub and species being that the resting period is different for each.

Tips on pruning shrubs

how to prunePruning a shrub almost at ground level will have the shrub grow vigorously to its initial high and all within a single growing season. It is perfect for obtaining long canes of new growth.  Pruning at the end of twigs the growth generated will be similar to the part you have cut.

The majority of old shrubs can rejuvenate when close to the grown about 30 – 40 cm. for best performance; cut about 50% of the shrub in the first year and cut the other part in the second year. This will stimulate new growth.

Shrubs blooming in early midsummer often have buds from the previous year. They are best pruned after flowering. Knowing how to carefully prune this type of shrub is essential so not to cut the buds. Shrubs that bloom after midsummer often make flowers in the current season. They are best pruned during the winter or the spring season. Pruning shrubs necessitate knowing the species and the blooming season to have the best results. Depending on each species, pruning should be undertaken accordingly

Pruning trees

pruning guidelinePruning a tree can be done for many different reasons; it could be for removing dead branches, to shape, resize, or allow new growth. Whatever the reason, when considering whether to prune a tree, you should determine how big the tree is. If the tree is very big, it would be wise to seek the help of professional and avoid placing yourself at risk. Very big trees often necessitate climbing and adequate safety equipment. On the contrary, an average tree can be a DIY job if you know the basics.

Tips for pruning tree

Tree branches are formed in three different manners; collared, collarless, and co dominant. Each type of branch is pruned in a particular method.  All trees regardless of the species are best pruned when dormant. Pruning in general is only carried out on the branch depending on the branch formation therefore; the basic of pruning trees is to know the three different types of branch formation and apply the technique to cut the branch along with additional knowledge of the type of tree and when best to prune.

Pruning techniques

  • Crown thinning – this technique is often applied on hardwood trees. It involves removing selectively stems and branches for the purpose of increasing light penetration and air movement. The purpose is for the improvement of the tree structure. Stems having a V-shape should be removed while those forming a U-shape should be maintained.
  • Crown raising – this technique only involves pruning at the bottom of the tree for the purpose of raising the crown of the tree is for allowing sunlight to pass through the canopy of the tree and for improving visibility for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Crown reduction – the technique is aimed at reducing the overall size of the tree.  Crown reduction can help enhance the appearance and form of the tree. It also is employed when there are structural concerns and to reduce the sail effect that the wind has therefore reducing any bio mechanical stress.

General method to prune a tree

Pruning a tree is made by three cuts on the branch. A small wedge is made on the underside which will break the

branch and prevent a tear. A little bit further off the branch should be cut starting from the top side all the way through.  The final cut is to be made to reduce the size of the branch that has been cut. The small piece remaining is to be cut near the trunk but still on the branch side of the stem.

In general, trees that flower early spring, dogwood for example, are best pruned immediately after flowering. Trees flowering in the summer and the fall are best pruned in the dormant season.

Some trees such as crabapple, pyracanthus, and others, are very susceptible to bacterial disease and should be pruned in the dormant season. Always verify the branch formation whether the branch is collarless, collared, or co dominant to adapt a pruning method.

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