The Importance of Pruning & Caring for Your Plants

Pruning is an important part of caring for trees, shrubs, and other plants in your landscape. This process involves cutting out unwanted parts of a plant, usually branches and buds.

Pruning is good for aesthetic purposes, but its true purpose is to ensure that your plants stay healthy for a long time.

Use this overview to see why pruning is so important, and learn when the best time to do it is.

How You Benefit From Pruning

Pristine, Green Lawn Growing in the Landscape

Removing dead branches from your plants will benefit you and your landscape in a variety of ways. For starters, taking out older branches ensures that you won’t have to worry about cleaning them up when they fall to the ground later. Not only will this make your plant look better, it will also make them a lot healthier too.

Dying branches attract insects, so if they aren’t taken out your plants could come under attack. Also, dead branches put a lot of stress on the plant, and that stress could cause healthier branches to come loose and fall to the ground.

Pruning a plant will also open space and allow for better circulation of air, which can help the plant fight off diseases. This also allows more sunlight to reach the base of the plant, which will help it grow better in the long run.

When Should I Prune My Plants?

Plants Flowering With Pink Buds

To ensure that your plants stay as healthy as possible, you need to determine the most ideal time to prune them. Ultimately, this depends on which types of trees and shrubs you are growing in your landscape.

Spring flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned in the late spring, after they’ve finished blooming. Trees that flower in the summer or fall should be pruned early in the spring or late into the winter. The plants will be dormant during this time, so the pruning process won’t put a lot of stress on them.

Pruning at the wrong time will hurt the buds of a plant, which can hinder its longevity. Determine what type of trees and shrubs you have before you decide to cut anything.

What You Need Before You Start Pruning

Holding a Pair of Orange Shears Near a Purple Plant

Pruning is a delicate process, so you need to do a few things before you start cutting things out. First, you need to inspect the plants in your landscape and determine which ones should be pruned. Not all plants need to be pruned, so reviewing which types of trees and shrubs require it is important.

Next, you need to determine how long the branches are on the plants you want to prune. This will determine which types of tools you’ll need to use in order to cut them out. Most of the time you can use a pair of pruning shears, but depending on the size of the branches you may need something else.

Branches that are 1.5” to 5” long should be cut using a pruning saw. Any branches that are over 2” thick should be cut off with a pair of loppers. For anything else, a pair of pruning shears will be good.

Pruning Methods

There are a few different ways to prune your plants, and the method you should use is based on what you’re looking to do with your landscape. We’ve listed some of the major methods for pruning and explained when they should be used.

  • Thinning: Remove branches along the base. This helps the plant get more sunlight.
  • Topping: Remove several branches down to the trunk. This is helpful when you want your plant to grow in a specific way.
  • Cleaning: Simply cutting out the dead branches to spruce up the plant’s appearance.
  • Reduction: Reduce a tree’s height and volume. Great for trees that are growing into places where they could cause problems.


Be Careful With Your Plants

Landscape With Trees, Shrubs, and Mulch in Hillsborough

If you’re planning to do some pruning on your own, here are a few things to keep in mind. To ensure that you make clean cuts from the plant, make sure your equipment is in top condition. You don’t want to leave pieces of the dead branch stuck to the plant.

It’s also important that you don’t try to prune too much of the plant at once. Only cut what’s necessary, and don’t go much further than that. Pruning too much could prove fatal for the plant, and its lifespan could be cut down dramatically.

While you can prune shrubs on your own, pruning trees is much more difficult to do by yourself. Instead of handling the project on your own, it would be smart to reach out to a licensed landscaper for assistance in that scenario.

If you want to plant some trees and shrubs in your landscape, Hillsborough Irrigations and Landscape Services can help you. Take some time to learn about our planting services.

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