When you decide to decorate your landscape with trees and shrubs, there are upsides and downsides. The upside is that your property will have added vitality, and will actually have increased value. The downside is that in order to maintain the visual aesthetics and value, those trees and shrubs have to be meticulously attended to on a regular basis. The problem with that is that many homeowners are not confident about their pruning abilities, nor should they be unless they have extensive experience with this particular task. Improper pruning can have serious consequences for the plant, which is why we highly recommend allowing your landscaping technician to handle the task. However, there are some tips we can provide those of you who just have some minor pruning to complete. With the right tools and the right techniques, you can help keep your trees and shrubs in perfect health and shape, and in turn, keep your landscape looking spectacular all season long. Okay, yes, pruning CAN be kind of frightening if you do not know what you are doing. But just as with everything else, practice makes perfect. You may want to start small – perhaps practice your pruning technique on a small indoor tree or even a more resilient outdoor shrub. The idea is to start learning on a plant that will not suffer greatly if you prune too much, which can easily happen. A properly pruned plant is a healthy plant, so you want to learn as much as you can about the art form. So what is the purpose of pruning? Of course there is the aesthetic appeal. You want your trees and shrubs to look nice and complement your landscape and overall property. However, pruning has several beneficial effects on the plant itself. When you prune your plant, the flow of water and nutrients throughout the plant’s vascular system is greatly improved. It also permits thriving areas of the plant to receive the most moisture and sustenance while those areas of the plant that are not performing very well are removed, no longer taking away from the healthy parts of the plant. It is difficult to describe specific techniques because each tree and shrub is different and the approach is also unique. But what we can recommend is that you employ the best tools for the job. Landscaping experts stress the importance of not utilizing cheap tools. While they may be more expensive, high quality pruning shears, loppers, saws, and hand pruners are an advantage and should be considered an investment in the overall well-being of your landscape. Tools that are sturdier are going to stay sharp for an extended amount of time, and will also deliver a more precise and healthy cut. Higher quality tools will also last for an extended amount of time, so the higher price you pay may seem a lot initially, but you will not have to keep replacing the tools. Now that you have high quality tools, make sure to keep them sharp. The sharper a pruning tool, the less stress your hands and arms will undergo when trying to cut through thicker branches. A sharpened tool will also deliver a healthier cut. While pruning is advantageous to a plant, it is still a small trauma from which the tree or shrub must heal. If you think about a cut on our own skin, one that is “clean” will heal better than if the cut were caused by something jagged and rusty. There would be an increased risk of infection and it would probably result in an unattractive scar. The same thinking goes for a tree or shrub. The cleaner the cut, the faster the plant will heal, and the less likely there will be any scarring. Finally, keep your pruning tools clean. As with any tool, you want to make sure it does not have any leftover material on it. However, it is also important to clean the blades before beginning to prune a different plant. Again, using ourselves as an example, if a surgeon is going to operate on a different patient, he will not use the same tools because they can spread disease and bacteria. The same theory applies with pruning tools because each plant has its own unique make up of bacteria. In addition, if the plant has a disease you are not aware of, you can transmit that disease to another plant by using sheers that have not been properly cleansed. Landscape experts advise wiping the blades with rubbing alcohol to eliminate any bacteria. You will also want to make sure you clean them well before putting them away after your pruning is complete.
August 20, 2016