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Garden Guide to Pruning

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Regular pruning encourages healthy, happy plants. Armed with the right tools and know-how, it's easy.

Guide To Pruning

When to Prune

Pruning at the wrong time won’t damage plants, but it can sacrifice that year's flowers or fruit. As a rule of thumb, prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees immediately after the flowers fade. Prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs in winter or early spring, before new growth emerges. In regions that have harsh winters, late- summer pruning encourages new growth that might not harden before the cold settles in.

Pruning Tool Primer

Hand Shears: Use hand shears for branches up to 1⁄4 inch in diameter. Scissor-type shears make tight, close cuts on plants. Hold shears to make sure they fit your hand and feel comfortable.

Lopping Shears: For branches up to 11⁄2 inches in diameter, reach for lopping shears. Buy shears with lightweight handles for easy use. Extendable handles let you reach higher branches.

Pruning Saws: For branches more than 11⁄2 inches in diameter, use pruning saws. Coarse teeth cut on the pull stroke for easy and safe pruning.

Pole Pruners: You’ll need pole pruners for branches more than 1 inch thick and beyond arm’s reach. Pole pruners feature a pruning shear head or saw that works via rope action. Look for pruners with a handle that disassembles for easy storage.

Hedge Shears: Use hedge shears for shaping and snipping new growth on shrubs.