Keeping your garden and landscape in pristine condition requires work and dedication. Beyond what you plant where,it is about how to best keep those plants vibrant and healthy. While many homeowners know that pruning is essential to maintaining optimum plant health, unfortunately, many homeowners misunderstand the whys, the whens and the hows of pruning. Proper pruning promotes healthy growth, improves the form of poorly shaped plants, showcases the beauty of your landscape, and encourages more and better blooms and fruits. Waiting too long, pruning at the wrong time, or not realizing when a plant is diseased can all seriously jeopardize your landscaping investment.
What is Pruning?
Simply put, pruning is the selectively removing parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Various cuts and techniques are used depending on the type of plant, the season, and the desired result. Light pruning can be as simple as removing dead flowers from a plant, while heavy pruning can involve topping off trees, thinning out tree branches and shaping shrubs.
Why Should You Prune?
Perhaps the biggest reason to prune, beyond beautification, is to eliminate the spread of insects, disease and decay in your plants. A dying branch or stub can be the gateway for insects or diseases which will spread to other parts of the plant. Making pruning part of your landscaping routine can also help plants recover from weather damage, transplant shock, or other trauma. Both light and heavy pruning help stimulate flowering and fruiting, maintain or reduce plant size, remove undesirable growth, allow more sunlight to reach other plants, prevent property damage, shape plants, and rejuvenate old plants.
When Should You Prune?
Many homeowners dread the job of pruning, and often put it off. Heavy pruning in particular can be daunting to gardeners who lack the proper tools, skills and manpower; however, it is a year-round job with specific tasks for specific plants. Too often, homeowners wait until a plant has completely outgrown its space, or until a tree is dying, before they realize it is time to prune. Other gardeners think pruning is strictly a springtime ritual that should be applied to all plants regardless of the plant’s needs. Based on when the plant flowers, light pruning can be done throughout of the year. Heavy pruning should be undertaken in late winter to early spring for maximum spring and summer results.
How Should You Prune?
Each plant has its own season and needs to be pruned accordingly. Your pruning technique, the frequency, the aggressiveness and timing will all depend on the plant’s distinct growth form and habit. Improper pruning can lead to a host of problems for your plants, including less flowers/fruit, insect damage, diseases and winter freeze. You’ll need to do your research and make sure you’re familiar with the various types of cuts, where to cut, and how much to cut per plant.
To help all of their plantings achieve the healthiest growth, the most blooms and the best shapes, homeowners should think of pruning as a large part of their regular outdoor maintenance routine. Not all gardeners are equipped, or have the knowledge and time, to adequately do the job. For your heavy pruning needs, and even for your light pruning, consider a consultation with a professional landscaper. A professional will be sure to have the right tools, knowledge, techniques and manpower to protect your investment while improving the beauty of all the plants.