Pruning is one of those gardening tasks which can confuse inexperienced gardeners; what does it mean exactly? How often should it be done and what tools are necessary? The answers to these questions vary and for most gardens the tools needed are minimal; secateurs or hand shears will be good for most smaller shrubs and bushes whilst long hedges will be best managed with a set of electrical or petrol powered hedge trimmers.
If your garden has an evergreen hedge or evergreen bushes then you will likely have to prune these around three times a year to keep them in good condition. Conifers will need pruning even more often as they are fast growing and can soon begin to get out of hand and block light.
Springtime is the time when most informal hedging will require pruning and this includes roses, lavender and fuchsia.
Pruning formal hedging
Begin by pruning the top of the hedge flat. This can be achieved easily with shears or an electric trimmer. Next look at the hedge as a whole and check areas which are growing off on a tangent, trim them in line with the main part of the hedge standing well back occasionally so that you may judge dimensions. If you are uncertain about your judgement, you can use a length of string stretched across the hedge between two stakes as a guide. Clean away all clippings from the base of the hedge, clippings which are left to rot can cause fungal infections in hedges.
Pruning informal hedging
Flowering hedges are usually left alone to form a more natural and informal hedge but they still require regular pruning if they are to stay healthy and to produce a good amount of flowers. Prune at the beginning of spring and use your judgement to nip off any wandering branches; check for dead branches too and remove these. As with formal hedging, take care to ensure that clippings are removed and composted rather than leaving them to rot down.
Roses require regular pruning if they are to flower well; when to prune is dependant on the breed of rose in question. Many roses are happy to be pruned in spring whilst others need a later pruning. Roses should be pruned using a sloping cut and always just above a bud which is facing outwards. Ensure that the slant of the freshly made cut is not facing in a direction which will leave the open wound vulnerable to rain which will affect the bud.
Shrub roses, rambling roses and bush roses should be pruned in mid-spring whilst climbing roses should be pruned in the autumn once the flowers have begun to look past their best. All roses will benefit from a good layer of mulch at their base as soon as pruning is completed.
Pruning in the garden is not difficult and will add to the health and longevity of your plants lives. Check regularly for dead or diseased branches on all of your trees, bushes and shrubs but remember that taller trees are best left to professional tree surgeons to take care of as there are too many variables in the care of them. It is never advisable to climb trees for the purpose of pruning them.
Well that’s another done one for today and I hope you can take something from this information and use it in your garden at home. Pruning your garden can be such a rewarding task and once you have finished you can sit back, put your feet up and enjoy some chocolate coated strawberries.