Now is the time to head out into your garden to clean up and prune your trees, shrubs and roses. Pruning is essential to the overall health of your garden and with a few basic tools and an understanding of how and why to prune, your garden will be thanking you for the attention come spring.
Good pruning improves plant health. It stimulates flowering and fruiting; rids the plant of dead and diseased parts; improves air circulation; rejuvenates older plants and ultimately improves the shape and appearance of the plant.
Here in Southern Utah, January and February are the ideal time to prune many plants as they are dormant, allowing you to assess health, make cuts and shape without trauma to the plant.
Pruning requires very few tools. For most home gardener’s, a good pair of hand pruners and a pair of loppers to cut branches is all you need. I also recommend gloves for protecting cold fingers! No matter the tools you choose, always make sure that they are clean and sharp. Dull pruners can do damage to your plant!
***Any LARGE trees or branches that require climbing or cutting near power lines should be left to the experts. Call your local arborist for assistance with large pruning projects!!!
Good pruning cuts are smooth with no ragged edges. Make your cuts at a 45 degree angle anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch beyond a bud or connecting branch. Please don’t use a sealer, they can encourage disease and slow healing. A good clean cut will heal itself!
Another good rule of thumb is to never remove more than 1/3 of a tree or shrub in any given year. Plants that have been neglected will take several years to bring back to life, have patience!
Ok, lets’ get pruning!!!!
Step #1 – Any diseased or damaged branches? Remove them.
Step #2 – Any branches that cross and rub? Remove the branch that has been damaged from rubbing.
Step #3 – Suckers at the bottom of the plant? Remove them.
Step #4 – Look at the plant, any branches that stick out and/or are growing in a direction that you don’t want the plant to grow in? Remove them.
Finally, if that plant is just getting a bit too wide or tall, trim for shape and height.
Congratulations! You have successfully pruned your first plant!!