University of Minnesota websites puts it well: “Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance. Many problems may be prevented by pruning correctly during formative years.”
The very same thing can apply to our own households… a little pruning can help many situations. Like Cold Turkey day for smokers, and promises to spend less time in front of the TV or other media, and more time talking to each other. Lop off the offending item as a preventive measure. But where to start!
Beginning checklist for pruning:
1: Find your tools: Loppers, Clippers, Pole Pruner, Hand Saw, whatever you have.
2: Search out the band aids, just in case, and a large box (like a banana box) for ease of removing the bitty pieces are clipped off. The larger branches can go on a tarp for cleaning up. Plan where you are going to put the waste as you will be tired when you are done for the day.
3: Clean and sharpen your tools then oil them for ease of use. It is a horrible job to use dull, stiff tools and it may even do damage to the plant. There are amazing videos on-line that clearly show how to clean up your tools. The man begins with a wire brush to get the big stuff off, then uses Scrubbing Bubbles sprayed on for the sap and dirt. That’s way more interesting than what I use that product for.
Next he used 3 in 1 oil on the blades, then a stone in a circular motion along the one cutting blade only. If you have a burr on the other blade take it off, but that’s all that side needs. Then he tweaked the blade with an even finer sharpener. It was so informative. I usually wash’em and oil them and go!
Assess the intended victim – uh plant.
4: Really look at the bush; does it just need shaping or are there damaged branches, or sucker limbs from the root?
5: Decide on a starting point which needs to involve removing cross branches, dead bits, water sprouts (vigorous upright growing sprouts that form on trunks or side branches), and suckers (shoots that develop near the ground). This will help avoid going over the bush several times.
6: Remove the suckers and water sprouts first, then the dead, diseased and damaged limbs. The cross branches and over height limbs will give you a pretty clean job.
Then shape the plant to suit the location. Everywhere you trim will branch out with 2 new branches. ‘Double for your trouble.’
7: Watch for irregular growths (galls) – they look like a burl on cedar trees in miniature.
Usually they come from wind or planting damage, where fungal activity enters into the stem, sort like an infection in a cut. They need to be removed and have plant paint applied to seal the cut. I have some if you just need a little. Remember to dip your tools in one part bleach, to nine parts water solution to clean away the ‘infection’.
Time for tea, while I figure out where all my ‘stuff’ is. Enjoy this awesome non-winter season.