Autumn and spring are traditional seasons for landscape and garden pruning, but it’s important to recognize the different demands placed on the activity during each.
One reason for pruning in fall is what’s often called “corrective pruning.” Essentially, it means removing branches that interfere with the rest of your landscape, e.g. those that are interfering with other plants or that might cause damage to your home during storms.
Another reason is to unburden trees of damaged or diseased limbs. As those may pose a danger to the tree itself, pruning them will actually contribute to the overall health of the plant. Judicious removals can also allow in more light and reduce the need for pesticides.
Below are some tips to help you get started:
- Have a plan. Pruning season can feel like a landscaping obligation, but you can do more damage than good pruning just because it’s the done thing.
- Fall pruning should focus mostly on improving growing conditions for next year. Resist the urge to do any serious shaping until spring.
- Wait until the leaves have fallen from deciduous trees. Cuts made in early fall tend to heal more slowly than cuts made later, leaving your tree exposed to disease for longer. Moreover, the structure of a denuded tree is easier to see, so you’ll be less prone to mistakes. Dead or already diseased branches are safe to prune right away.
- Start small, with a set of hand pruners, trimming smaller branches. Pay particular example to young trees. Since these more precise cuts will heal more quickly, the more work you can do with hand pruners the better.
- The angle formed by a branch is an indication of its likely strength. Narrower angles are generally weaker than wide angles. Since the pressure exerted by storms and snows can break these limbs, pruning the weaker limbs can help protect your home from winter damage.
- When removing an entire limb, avoid cutting too close to the trunk. Most limbs form a natural collar at the fork. Cut outside the edge of this bulge opposite from the trunk.
- When removing a branch, start by making an upward cut about a third of the way through the branch, an inch or so from the collar. Then, starting another inch or so farther out, cut downward to complete the cut. Once the branch is removed, trim the remainder back to the collar. As with any pruning you do, take safety precautions to avoid being struck by falling limbs.
- If you notice a young tree starting to split into two trunks, settle on making a hard decision: cutting away one of the trunks. Allowing both to grow will weaken the overall strength of the tree, making it prone to collapse. Waiting until the tree is older will only make this necessary job tougher on you.
Fiskars offers a wide selection of pruners, loppers and shears with Titanium-coated blades, exclusive to The Home Depot.
photo: Lithiumphoto / SS