The biggest mistake people make with pruning shrubs is…..
Someone will buy a shrub that says it grows 5’, at the time of sale the plant is 18’ tall. Someone grows it to 5’ tall over the course of 3-5 years then starts pruning the plant after it has already hit 5’. The result of this approach is someone ends up with 5 dominant shoots at the base of the plant that are really thick in diameter and there are few shoots off these branches. The plant gets really ugly fast and is yanked within five to seven years of planting it.
The secret to growing great looking shrubbery is to prune at least annually. It’s that simple. In this article I will elaborate on the more technical side of this approach while also discussing tools to use and not to use, and the spiritual and physical benefits of maintaining beautiful plants and gardening in general.
First, when hand pruning prune in between the nodes also known as the bud sites.
Tools need to be clean and sharp to make the best cuts and to prevent the spread of disease.
Different types of tools:
Anvil Pruners: crush the cambium layer inside the wood and wounds heal poorly, avoid using these. I am not even sure why they make them. They are alright for things that are dead.
Bypass Pruners: I recommend using this type of pruner, wounds heal more cleanly.
Loppers: use these for thicker wood, branches ½ “ thick or more. Also go with bypass loppers instead of anvil loppers.
The best tools seem to be made by Felco out of Switzerland. If you are a lefty they have lefty models as well as righties. I use the #8, my Dad was a lefty he used a #9. They are expensive although worth the cost. We have Felcos going on ten years old. They have replacement parts for them in case anything ever breaks on them. It is not a throwaway tool.
I am also trialing some pruners from Italy made by ARS they seem nice; they are as expensive as Felcos. The verdict is not out on these.
I am also trialing the AM Leonard comparable pair to Felcos #8 which are made in Europe as well. Avoid cheap pruners. They tear wood, and injure trees.
I had some Wolf Garten pruners from Germany that are nice because they are light weight however they can not cut anything over 3/8” on a regular basis and remain dependable. I am not sure there is a handpruner even made in the United States to my knowledge.
Check back in later in the week for more information on pruning.