• Kerri Bailey, BS CH

Pruning Your Landscape



Why Prune? Pruning is Essential for Maintaining Landscape Proportion, Scale, Health & Integrity.

Pruning = Skill + Science

Skill= Shaping Plants, Making Decisions

Science = Growing Habits, Response to Pruning

  • Artistic Pruning to your Tastes- now and as your landscape changes

  • Depends upon the biology of plant

  • Seasons, Weather, Time of Year Avoid Extreme weather!

  • Techniques have changed from 20-30 years ago- now we understand healing- no sealers

Proper Pruning Benefits

  • Benefits Plants by Providing Proper Air Flow & Space

  • Better Access to Resources (Sun, Water, Fertilizer)

  • May Increase Bloom & Vigor

  • May Decrease Disease Potential

  • Proper Habits Benefit the Plant-when, why & how

  • Keep Your Tools Clean, especially after pruning diseased plants

  • Proper Planting and Pruning go hand in hand

Improper Pruning:

  • Can Actually Harm Plants (subject to damage)

  • Introduce Disease or Insects (dirty tools)

  • Cause Rot (straight topping)

  • Over Pruning Can Cause Improper Growing Habits (water sprouts)

  • Lack of Pruning can be as harmful as Incorrect Pruning

Controlling Size

Increase Vigor

Direct Growth

  • Your Landscape is like an Investment. A well kept and well planted yard has real value- adds about 10-15% to the total value of your property

  • The Larger the Plant, the more it would Cost to Replace- it may take decades for a Tree to Mature

  • Choose the Right Plant for the Right Place

Styles = Formal vs Informal

Plant Growth- Budding

3 Types of Buds

  • Most New Growth from Trees & Shrubs develop from Buds on Branches

  • Dormant Buds- form during one growth season and remain dormant until the next growing season forming Stems, Leaves or Flowers.

  • Latent Buds are dormant buds on mature growth that remain for several seasons

  • Adventitious Buds form where no buds existed

Apical Dominance is a phenomenon where a lateral bud has distance from the terminal bud

  • Occurs after a few seasons. Also called Central Leader.

  • Controlled by a hormone Auxin, produced in the terminal bud. While active, it signals other hormones to remain dormant. Can have several or single leader.

  • Buds further away (from the terminal bud) receive weaker and fewer signals with the lower released from dormancy & grow.

How we prune determines the growth pattern. This are the basic types of pruning techniques depending upon where the pruning cuts are made in relation to where the dormant buds & side branches are on the plant.

  • Heading

  • Shearing

  • Pinching

  • Thinning

Taking larger branches off of trees without stripping the bark can be tricky unless you follow this method. This is what most people should understand about pruning large branches & incorporate into their pruning practices.

  • Three cuts- 2 smaller, opposite it each other apart by a few inches- this takes off the tension allowing for a clean break. The last cut is the real cut.

  • Last final cut should not be too close to the collar by the trunk. Leave a bit of room for proper healing. Avoid leaving a stub.

  • Pruning tools, many brands to choose from. How much do you want to spend? I like “Fiskers”

  • Your Preference-I like electric hedge trimmers & chainsaw vs gas (are lighter in weight).

  • Basic: Hand Pruners, Lopping Shears, Hedge Shears, Hand Saw, Chainsaw, Pole Pruner (with extension)

  • Gloves, Safety Glasses, Ladder (use caution)Tarp.

  • Keep Tools Clean and good condition.

Pruning Safety Practices Should Always be Employed

  • Wear Protective Equipment- Gloves, Safety Glasses, Ear Plugs (chainsaw use), Long Sleeves & Pants, Hardhat (large trees)

  • Ladders: Avoid Using whenever possible. If you do, make sure someone else is there stabilizing the ladder. Use Extreme Caution, Falling Off Ladders Hurts.

  • Use Common Sense When Using Sharp Tools, Chainsaws, etc.

  • Avoid Pruning Near Utility / Power Lines

  • Hire a Professional when Needed, to do the work or for advice.

When to Prune is crucial to maintaining healthy plants. Also technique varies by plant group.

  • late Winter / Early Spring- for most plants. Hard Pruning should be done when plants are dormant.

  • General Rule: no more than 1/3 of plant at a time, otherwise you get problems

  • Growing Season- to shape, deadhead

Avoid pruning the first flush of new growth in spring. This is energy storage time for plants and you can reduce vigor.

Pruning Inside & Out Guide. Look up your plants for detailed info about specialized pruning needs for all of your plants but this is a good guide to help you start.

It is better to prune Less More Often than More Less Often.

  • Trees- Deciduous- After blooming or when dormant & Evergreen- during the growing season

  • Shrubs- Deciduous- After blooming or when dormant & Evergreen- After blooming or when actively growing.

  • Fruits- Typically late Feb.-March & Berries-late summer or fall

  • Vines- after they die back, or before the new growth starts. Evergreen vines prune during growing season.

  • Annuals, Perennials & Bulbs- after they have died back. Deadhead flowers and hanging plants.

  • Ornamental Grasses- before the new growth starts; or give a tidy trim during the growing season or complete cut before new growth starts.

  • Annuals, House & Seasonal Plants- after blooming, deadhead. Remove dead leaves when needed, year round.

Make a list of plants that you need pruning and where they are in your yard. They put this information into a schedule for yourself, that once or twice a month (or how often needed) you can attend to pruning and other duties that may need your attention.

Take my Pruning Your Landscape Class to Learn More! www.PierceCE.com for more info.

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