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.