How to prune trees and shrubs

16 Mar, 2020

How to prune trees and shrubs

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As a homeowner with a garden you know the need to maintain your garden, with a keen eye and the best equipment. Learning to prune trees is core to maintaining a healthy garden. And tending to your plants can be a wonderful pass time keeping you in the fresh air, with a beautiful garden giving you the homeowner a sense of pride and satisfaction.

Read our blog to find out the best approach to pruning trees and shrubs.

man  pruning tree with sheers
Learning to prune trees can be vital to the health of your trees and garden overall

Photo by Anna Shvets

The Importance of Learning to Prune Trees

There’re numerous reasons why tree pruning is considered such a necessary maintenance task. Any homeowner with a garden stocked full of trees and shrubs knows the importance of pruning for the health and propagation of their plants.

Primarily, pruning promotes good plant health. It removes damaged limbs, restricting growth, or even encouraging new growth. However, incorrect pruning can be really detrimental to the health of your plants. For this reason it is important to learn the art of pruning trees and shrubs and what you need to make a success of it.

Before everything else, however, one of the critical elements to proper pruning is the choice of tools. See, you might be a skilful shearer, but if you don’t have the right tools at your disposal, then you could make a mess, so it’s worth taking care.

Prune trees with hand sheers for a delicate job like this apple tree
Choosing the right tools for the particular task can help you maintain good plant health

Photo by Oleksandr P

So, first things first, you need to learn how to select the best tools for pruning. Choose carefully, not simply for budget but also for purpose. Rose sheers will be different to hedge trimmers and so on.

With that out of our way, now let’s look at the proper techniques of pruning trees and shrubs.

How to Prune Shrubs

When pruning shrubs, you can use hand pruners or even loppers to get rid of the dead wood. Trim the crossing, damaged, or crowded branches back to the base of the plant.  This will help to revive the plant.

With shrubs, it’s always advisable that you avoid shearing the flowering shrubs with hedge shears. Use the correct tools for the best results.

Here’s a step by step procedure of pruning shrubs:

  • Start by cutting the bud that faces outwards, away from the central stem. Always remember that growth on any plant emerges from the bud, so you want to trigger the growth from outside as opposed to inward.
  • While cutting, leave about 1/2 –inch between the bud and where you cut.
  • Again, while cutting, do it on a slanted angle, down and away from the bud. This slanting angle will discourage water from accessing the buds.
  • Finally, when cutting the larger shrub branches, cut the lateral branch, or rather where a smaller branch emerges from the branch you’re pruning.

Pruning Trees

Deciduous and evergreen trees must be pruned once they are established in order to stay healthy.  However, there are special occasions when you need to perform corrective pruning to get rid of a broken branch, a diseased limb, or even dead growth.

Learn to prune trees in this instance from an expert to prevent further damage.

General guidance for when you prune trees

When you prune trees, begin with the side branches, while moving forward to the main branch, but leave the collar.  It’s essential to leave the collar intact as it greatly contributes to the fast healing of the wound.

For the smaller branches, however, it’s easier to get the job done using a pruning saw or hand pruner.  Regardless of the technique you employ, always cut back to an outward-facing bud or intersecting branches.

Secondly, avoid covering the pruning cuts with tree paint to avoid decay and promote faster healing.

For the larger jobs try tree service of Palm Bay experts.

man using electric hedge trimmers on a high hedge

Large hedges require special equipment for pruning

Photo by Indi Van Kuijk

Pruning Hedges

Pruning is necessary for the hedges, especially at the start of the spring session.  The type of pruning and the tools used will largely depend on the type of hedge.

For instance, if yours is an informal hedge consisting of lilacs or other deciduous shrubs, it’s advisable t use hand loppers or even hand pruners to get rid of the broken and dead branches.

On the other hand, if you’ve a formal hedge, we recommend using shears to keep your hedge in shape. For large hedges you may need extendable sheers to ensure you have adequate reach.

Pruning Rose Shrubs

Roses often need yearly pruning to promote flowering and maintain vigour. Learning to prune trees like rose trees takes special care and attention.

Hybrid roses, for instance, should be pruned in the Spring. This cleans up the old and unproductive growth. To prune the rose shrubs, you need to remove 3-5 of the healthiest branches, while at the same time cutting back the outward-facing buds.

If you’ve shrub roses, cut the spindly canes by half their length, and completely break off the canes that grow below the graft union.

Homeowners maintain their gardens by pruning

So now, you have it. Learning to prune trees and shrubs is not as challenging as it seems. Follow a few simple rules for each type of plant. Follow the outlined steps, and more importantly, remember that your choice of pruning equipment will determine the success of your pruning and the stunning effects in your garden.


At Housesit we often share practical ideas and information for our members. Here are some useful links for some of our earlier gardening blogs. We hope you enjoy them and find them of use.

Create the perfect garden – 7 Top tips

Home gardening safety tips – Green thumb 101

Gardening tips – How to stop insects eating young plants

How to clean the pool and remove stains properly

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