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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! for more info.

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