Home Lawn & Garden Pruning: Benefits and Different Methods Involved

Pruning: Benefits and Different Methods Involved

by Kellen Greene

If there’s one thing trees and shrubs love as much as sunlight and water, it’s taking up as much space as possible. Some of them particularly more so than others. All the better to get as much glorious sunshine as possible and to simply feel the cool breeze rustling through those branches. 

But such unchecked growth does come with a few drawbacks. And pruning is one of the very best ways of handling them effectively. In this article, we shall be examining its benefits in relation to those drawbacks. We shall also take a look at the different methods of pruning and key factors which must be taken into consideration to ensure your trees and shrubs benefit fully from pruning.

The Benefits of Pruning

Regulation of Size

The last thing you want is for that shrub or tree to take up more space than it’s meant to and choke out other plants too by snatching their nutrients for itself. Pruning unwanted branches is a great means of cutting the aggressively expanding plant down to size so that its other leafy neighbors also get to thrive too.

Improved Foliage, Fruit and Flowers

More branches means that a tree or plant may end up overextending itself as a result of having to provide nutrients for them all. As a result, it could end up with sparse foliage, fruit and flowers. Pruning it would enable it to have more nutrients at its disposal which would result in richer foliage, and an improved quality of fruit and flowers.

Improved Health

When a branch becomes diseased, it places the rest of the tree at risk of infection. Getting rid of the infected branch via pruning will eliminate this risk, enabling the tree to remain healthier for longer.

Improved Overall Appearance

Uncontrolled growth can result in trees and shrubs having a somewhat disheveled appearance. Pruning on the other hand, will enable you to shape them according to your preference making them look more visually pleasing in the process.

Safety

Branches left to grow unchecked could pose a risk to your safety and your property. This holds especially true in the event of a thunderstorm which could send them whipping through windows, crashing down on vehicles or roofs, or obstructing fire exits. Pruning those branches will ensure you’re able to eliminate those risks and maintain the safety of your household and your property as a result.

Methods of Pruning

The right pruning method will enable you to get the most out of your trees and shrubs. However, the best option often depends on the circumstances at hand and the outcomes you wish to achieve. A number of the most commonly used methods include:

Thinning

This method is best used on trees which have rather dense foliage and branches. It primarily involves the removal of a number of branches on the trunk. Doing so will expose a greater part of the plant to air and sunlight, two factors which are essential for its well being.

Reducing

This involves shaping a tree to make it more visually pleasing and to also prevent it from encroaching on space meant for buildings. It’s a method which should be applied carefully since it can negatively affect a tree’s health.

Raising

When a tree decides to grow right over your driveway or prevent you from enjoying magical sunsets on your porch, what do you do? Get rid of those lower branches determined to take up your space.This method comes with the added benefit of bestowing a more orderly appearance on trees. However it may also negatively affect their health as well. Hence close attention must be paid to the condition of the plant before employing this method.

Deadwooding

Occasionally certain branches become infected or even die. As a result, it becomes necessary to remove them in order to prevent the infection from spreading all over the tree. The overall effect involves maintaining the tree in good health while also making it look visually pleasing.

Getting the Most out of Pruning

Some of the most important factors to pay attention to before you start pruning include:

Hygiene

Caring for your plants does require carefully cleaning those shears, pruning saws and loppers. Failing to do so could result in infections spreading among your carefully cultivated plants. Several garden tool retailers stock up on disinfectants and are a great source for obtaining them. Alternatively,  you could also use 70-100% isopropyl alcohol to disinfect your tools. This solution comes with the benefits of being particularly effective while being kind to your tools. However, it’s worth noting that it’s also flammable and gives off sharp fumes.

Timing

The best time to prune a tree or shrub is during its dormant period. This tends to vary depending on the plant itself. Experts recommend pruning shrubs which flower in spring as soon as they’re done blooming. Plants which flower in summer should be pruned in early spring. Fruit trees on the other hand are best pruned in winter to encourage excellent growth.

Tools

Having the right tools on hand will make the entire exercise proceed rather smoothly. Quite often, the size of the branch in question will determine which tool is appropriate. Examples include:

Hand pruners: These tools are ideal for small branches with a diameter of 1 inch or less.

Loppers: Are generally used for twigs or smaller branches under 2 inches wide.

Pruning saws: Are ideal for branches of up to 3 or 4 inches wide. Pole saws are also an excellent choice for cutting branches which are out of reach.

Pruning is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening. Especially when done right, since it will yield rich dividends such as larger, prettier fruit and flowers and perfectly shaped trees and shrubs in excellent health. And you can reap those wonderful benefits and watch your favorite plants flourish like never before.

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