5 Tips For Pruning Trees and Shrubs Correctly

November 9th, 2022 0 Comments

hydrangea shrub to illustrate pruning trees and shrubsPruning trees and shrubs can be stressful. Even seasoned gardeners dread pruning from time to time. That’s because there are so many factors to consider that it can be difficult to get right every time like:

“Did I prune too late?” “Did I prune too early?” “Maybe I should just avoid pruning altogether?”

And if you’re not much of a gardener: “Maybe I just won’t bother!”

However, proper pruning is an essential part of plant health care and maintenance, and avoiding it altogether is never a good option.

Most plants – but shrubs and trees in particular – will need some kind of trim throughout their lifetime. So learning how to do it correctly will pay you back in more ways than one. Sure, pruning mistakes are incredibly common, but they can easily be prevented if

  • you use the proper pruning techniques and, more importantly,
  • know why you must prune a tree or shrub in the first place.

Let’s get a grip on it!

What is Pruning?

Pruning related to plant health care involves removing parts to improve form and growth.

More than that, though, proper tree pruning and shrub pruning is a science and an art that involves recognizing plant flaws and eliminating defects. By flaws and defects, we mean dead, diseased, or dying bits.

The goal is to remove branches with minimal damage to the growing tissue so that the wound will close in the shortest period and with the least possibility of wound infection.

Why Prune?

Pruning trees and shrubs can be done for several reasons, including

  • reducing the size of the plant,
  • opening up the canopy,
  • removing obstructions,
  • enhancing its shape, and
  • removing dead or damaged growth.

Most importantly, though, pruning is done to ensure the tree or shrub’s health and continued livelihood.

5 Tips for Optimal Pruning Results

Proper tree and shrub pruning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. It just takes practice and experience! Once you get the hang of it, your plants and trees will prosper.

On the other hand, if you know you’d like us to help, contact us today. Otherwise, take your time, do your research, and use these five tips to guide your pruning techniques and methods.

1 Prune at the Proper Time

Depending on the species and condition of your tree or shrub, there are good times and bad times for pruning any tree or shrub.

Pruning at the right time of year avoids

  • unsightly trees and shrubs,
  • reduced flowering, and
  • plants that are more likely to be damaged by diseases, insects, or winter cold.

2 Make the Right Pruning Cuts

Each cut can change the tree’s growth, so your pruning should be purposeful.

That means you should make proper pruning cuts in the right place to ensure the plants grow back correctly, minimizing damage and allowing them to heal quickly.

Even a basic amount of knowledge about where to make pruning cuts to a shrub can help you avoid basic problems. For example, shrub cuts made too close to the bud can cause damage, prevent new growth, and encourage disease.

Likewise, cutting too close or too far from the trunk of a tree can cause problems with healing, making the tree vulnerable to disease and rotting. We talk about how to prune a tree here.

3 Use the Right Pruning Tools and Maintain Them

The four most common tools used for pruning include pruning shears, loppers, pruning saws, and chainsaws.

Using the right size tool for the job at hand is vital. As is maintaining your tools well!

Clean, sharp, and well-oiled pruning tools perform better, last longer, and are safer to use. That’s because blunt and dirty tools can cause rough cuts that may

  • rip the bark,
  • shred the wood, and
  • leave large wounds susceptible to disease and pests.

In addition, keeping your tools clean is an easy way to prevent the danger of disease spreading. Fungal and bacterial diseases are common, and if you even make one or two snips from a diseased branch and don’t clean your equipment in between, you can transfer the disease to another plant.

4 Prune When Necessary and With Purpose!

Sometimes you can begin pruning trees and shrubs without having a clear goal.

Any cut made to a plant leaves an open wound, so without a purpose, pruning is technically harming the plant without reason. It may not immediately impact growth, but chopping here and there to try and get it right can do more harm than good!

So – assess the needs of your plants and prune them selectively, when necessary.

Proper pruning techniques used with purpose can train the tree or shrub and promote growth, whereas over-pruning is always risky and causes uneven growth and unnecessary stress to the tree or shrub.

Remember, you can always cut more, but you can’t cut less! Trimming too much at once leaves your plants vulnerable. It’s therefore best to trim in stages rather than all at once. This gives you plant time to recover and adjust, limiting potential problems for you in the future.

5 Prune to Achieve Maximum Health and Growth Potential

Sometimes the fear of making a pruning mistake can overpower your motivation to prune altogether. Although many plants don’t need to be purposefully pruned to aid growth, they still need you to

  • remove dying or underperforming branches,
  • diseased leaves, or
  • spent flowers.

The Result of Following Our Tips?

You’ll find that the long-term benefits of learning proper pruning techniques outweigh the risks of not pruning at all! Pruning keeps your shrubs healthy, looking good, and – particularly in the case of trees – safe.

And your gardening friends will confirm how addictive they find it to prune properly and maintain their yard at its best!

Hire the Pros for Tree and Shrub Pruning

However, there’s always a case for bringing in the pros! If you feel overwhelmed about when and how to start pruning properly, or you’d simply like an expert to do it for you, reach out to us at B&R Tree Service. We have a reliable team of skilled arborists and plant health care experts in Massachusetts– and we always go above and beyond what you expect.

If you’d like to ensure the best possible pruning care for all of your tree and shrub needs, contact us today or call us on the numbers below and let’s talk.

Natick – (978) 369-6019

Charlton –(508) 248-9100

Shrewsbury – (508) 845-6111

Image attribution

Tree Pruning