Introduction to Pruning – Basic Techniques
Definition of Pruning: ”to remove dead or living parts from (a plant) so as to increase fruit or flower
production or improve the form”
What is the purpose of pruning trees, shrubs and vines?
Health - remove dead, damaged or diseased branches; sunlight penetration; air circulation; strong structure
Size - control size and shape of the plant; maintaining an appealing shape
Bounty - promote flowering and fruit production
Beauty - head back to produce more flowers; promote new fresh growth; rejuvenate old plants
Pleasure - sculpting for your enjoyment; making your garden a work of art
- Thumb and Forefinger
- By-pass Pruners
- Anvil Pruners
- Pruning Saw
- Hedge Clippers
- Pruning Knife
- Telescoping Tree Pruner
Care of Pruning Tools:
- Use full-strength chlorine bleach and soak for 2 minutes
- Allows wounds to heal rapidly
- Prevents spread of diseases, funs and insect eggs
Tools should not be left to soak for longer than required as damage can occur.
General Rules for Pruning Trees
- Take out diseased, damaged or rotting branches
- Watch for a poor crotch and take out
- Remove overlapping branches
- Remove branches that are too closely spaced to nearby branches
- Remove suckers and watersprouts
- Pruning paint is not needed - trees heal better without it
A heading cut, also called a pinching cut, is often used on
young trees to slow growth of stems or branches, increase
branching on a long thin stem or to maintain an
appearance or specific height of the canopy.
Reduction or Drop-Crotching Cut
Reduction or drop-crotching reduces the height of
the tree. The height of the terminal branch is
reduced to a large lateral.
Thinning removes the unwanted branch to a large
lateral branch. The remaining branch should be
one-half, but not less than one-third, the size of
the branch removed.
If large branches are removed by a single cut, they often split and
produce a larger wound than is necessary for quick, clean closure.
Remove such branches by the jump-cut, or drop-cut, method.
On a dead branch that has a collar of live wood, the final cut should be
made just beyond the outer edge of the branch collar.
Removal Cut – (in conjunction with a jump-cut)
Removes a branch back to the trunk, or point of attachment on
the tree. The part that remains on the tree is larger than the part
The branch collar, a thickened area at the point of attachment of a
branch, should be maintained intact. The collar area contains cells
that callus rapidly and produce chemicals that can resist disease
Flush cuts, cuts made flush with the trunk and removing the
branch collar, should be avoided. Flush cuts open a larger area of
the trunk, reduce the tree’s ability to heal the wound and increase
the chance of decay.
When is the Best Time to Prune?
- Late winter or early spring before leaf-out
- This time frame causes the least amount of stress on trees
- Light pruning can be done any time
For a hand out on this topic with diagrams please download the attached pdf document