Ten Best Pruning Tips

Ilona Erwin

When and how should you prune? This is an important question when you care about the health of valuable trees, shrubs, and plants. It also makes a difference in the blossom and fruits for that year. So I thought I would gather together the ten best resources of the web in one place, and then follow those ten with other helpful pruning articles (including my own!) to give you the information you need to prune at the right time and in the right way.

The Basics of Pruning:

Why prune?

  • get rid of dead and damaged parts
  • direct the growth of the branches (plant)
  • encourage new growth
  • fix some growth problems such as weakness
  • prevent future problems, such as disease from lack of air circulation, damage from crossing branches,etc

The 10 Best Pruning Tips

1. Get the best quality shears and loppers you can afford. Handsaws, such as a Gomtaro Japanese Saw
, are perfectly fine if of average quality.

2. If using a lopper for a fairly good size branch, position the end of one handle on your shoulder and use both hands to exert pressure from the other handle. If this isn’t enough to do the job, it is time to grab the saw- even if the diameter didn’t seem to merit it.

3. Another tool often spoken of by English gardeners and professional nurserymen is the pruning knife.
I think this is one tool I haven’t used that I would greatly appreciate. There are times I just grub off excess twigs, but I think a pruning knife would work well in many situations. Sometimes the pruners just don’t make as clean a cut on the more flexible branches.

4. When pruning large branches make sure you do the undercut first. That is the cut underneath the branch, so that as you saw through and get to where the weight of the branch might pull it down, it will not strip off the bark as it breaks away.

5. A saw cuts with the pull.

6. Prune away weak, inside branches, especially those that cross.

7. Prune damaged branches and too strong growth that sprouts straight upward.

8. Prune older branches on the inside of shrubs, to help give the newer growth a boost.

9. Prune shrubs after they bloom.[/box]

10. And as Wise Abe Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” In other words: Keep Your Tool Edges Sharp.

The Ten Best Articles on Pruning

  1. OSU Fruit Pruning Guide
  2. Pruning Foundation Shrubs, and a Pruning PDF overview
  3. PDF file illustrating 9 pruning methods; also lists many shrubs and the method recommended.
  4. Pruning Heritage Roses
  5. How to Prune Trees USDA article.
  6. Pruning the Three Types of Clematis
  7. Master Gardener’s Guide
  8. Calender Chart for Shrubs
  9. Quick Pruning Tips- Printable
  10. Arborday Animated Tutorial

What Pruning Tools Should I Use?

There are three tools to have in your tool shed, each is important.

  1. pruning shears for smaller branches
  2. loppers for larger sizes
  3. a pruning handsaw for the largest branches

Helpful Book on the topic-
The Pruner’s Bible: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pruning Every Plant in Your Garden


Added Pruning Links

Modern Pruning Information

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.