Tag Archives: pruning

Choosing the Right Pruning Tools

Choosing the Correct Pruning Tools

Choosing the Correct Pruning Tools for California Plants (and other Pruning “ABC’s”)

Remember when you first planted your garden plants, trees, and shrubs? Every plant looked so lonesome at first. But now the space is getting crowded! So now what to do? You wouldn’t dare want to get rid of any healthy foliage or shrub, so it’s time to master your pruning skills!

When beginning to prune, always start with dead branches and stems. Next move on to damaged, then diseased branches. Last, remove any branches or stems that cross or break the natural pattern of the rest of the plant, shrub, or tree, such as a weeping or dropping stem or limb.

Remember your ABC’s; First anvil, then bypass, then clean cut! Use an anvil pruner to cut dead wood, or for removing material up to the point of the desired cut; The anvil pruner is much more sturdy, but it also can crush the plant. Complete the cut with the bypass pruners.  Bypass pruners are less stable, but give a clean and sharp cut.

If using a saw to prune, make sure it’s a pruning saw. The pruning saw works with a pulling motion,  whereas a carpenter saw requires the user to push the blade to make the cut. This can be very dangerous and difficult on a wobbly or diseased branch.

If you are considering pruning large trees, remember safety first.  Sawing limbs on trees is a risky job no matter how many precautions you take, but using saws attached to long poles increases the danger. Adding a ladder into the mix makes it even more of a risk.  If the job seems to big and you aren’t sure where to cut, call an Arborist. Save your self time, money, and possible harm to yourself or surrounding structures.

Here are some other favorite gardener and pruning tools, that you may want to pick up on your next trip to the home improvement store:

  • Loppers for large pruning jobs
  • Holsters that can clip into your belt (keep your pruning tools close and less risk of losing them).
  • Folding pruning saws (which have a cover on the blade, so you can safely carry in a holster)
  • A Hori Hori knife, to use as a trowel. It has a measurements on the blade, and one side is serrated for easily cutting roots.
  • A hand-held Hula-Ho (or Loop Ho) designed to pull weeds by the roots.

In closing, remember to always wear gloves and protective eye wear that also protects from the sides. Clean your tools with bleach or alcohol, and oil them after use. Sharpen your pruners with a carbide sharpening tool instead of a file. The carbide blade is stronger; files can actually dull your blades.

If you live in the Bay Area or Santa Clara County, California and need a professional & certified Arborist to prune your larger to reach trees and shrubs, we confidently suggest Arbortek Trees. Contact Arbortek today to schedule an appointment!

Pruning Rosebushes in Winter

Pruning 101: Step-By-Step Winter Rosebush Care

In the San Jose and surrounding Bay Area, roses never really go dormant, as our climate is mild. However, roses do rest and this is a very similar and vital process to their longevity and health. You may feel a strong urge to do something to rose bushes right after they have stopped blooming. Stop! Don’t do it! It is after they have done their work that they rest and collect starches and sugars and go into dormancy.

In the Bay Area, many debate on whether rose bushes should be pruned in spring or winter. You can try experimenting with both approaches. We’ve seen success both ways, but for this blog, we are going to focus on the most traditional time to prune rose bushes, in winter.

We never know how erratic the weather will be for the next two month up here in Santa Clara County and the surrounding Bay Area. Our advice in summary, once “dormancy” (ahem, actually rest) is safely proven – when you are sure there won’t be another freeze -this is when you need to prune ASAP.

First, Pull out the Correct Rose Pruning Tools

Pruning requires certain equipment to prevent injury to yourself, or the rosebush.
Rose thorns are vicious, particularly when winter has whittled them hard and sharp, so wear gardening gloves. We suggest leather gloves for rose pruning so the thorns can’t poke through the gardening glove. You will need gardening shears, the same you use for cutting and maintenance will do just fine.

Next, Strip the Rose Bush before Pruning

Never skip this step! Strip rose bushes of all foliage two weeks before you prune. You may need to keep an eye on the 10 day forecast to plan this out correctly. Once the leaves are removed, the rose bush is given a signal to rejuvenate the foliage process.

Pruning Rose Bushes in Bay AreaThe first sign bushes are bouncing back is when you spot swollen eyes where new growth is to appear – at the joining place of leaf formations and stems. When rosebushes are resting (or dormant) the eyes are not visible, but when they begin to grow (accelerated by stripping the rose bush) they will turn red and swell. These are your incision spots for making cuts in the right places.

The vitality and strength of rose wood can be determined by examining the pith (interior wood) within the bark. Green or milky white is healthy. Brown or blackened wood is dead or very old and will not produce blooming roses. Fresh wood is also much easier to cut that deadwood. You’ll learn quickly the difference by the pressure on your shears, so be extra careful!

Remove all twiggy growth, unhealthy wood or deadwood, and weak or broken tall growth (if the tall growth is twiggy and waves in the breeze, it’s time for it to go). Split bark is also a sign of bark to be removed at this time.

Next,  Decide how Severely to Prune the Rosebush.

Depending on where you live, the space you have, and your gardening goals for this rosebush; this will guide you on how severe to prune your rose bushes. Light pruning requires a minimum of cutting, removing only twiggy or deadwood, and leaves the rosebush tall. Light pruning will result in short-stemmed blooms on a large rosebush. You may favor moderate pruning if you have garden display in mind your are attempting to design. Moderate pruning leaves 6 to 10, 1 1/2’ to 3 1/2’ canes per bush, depending upon its growth habits. Usually half the length of each cane is removed. Severe pruning leaves only three to four canes, sometimes less than 1’ tall.

Pruning height will vary by variety. Bushes don’t grow the same; they can not be pruned identically. Some grow tall, and no pruning technique you apply is going to make a difference! In fact, if you try to manipulate some of the natural growth patterns, they may spend their time during growing season to get back to the height at which they are most happy for blooming. Until they get there, they may not bloom at all (stubborn lil’ rosebushes!).

Now, Begin Cutting the Rosebush

Once you’ve pruned the rosebush to a height that suits you, look carefully for dormant eyes, which will be readily apparent to you if you’ve stripped bushes of foliage two weeks before pruning (see step #1!). Make cuts a 1/4″ above the eyes that point outward from the center of the bush (the direction in which you want new growth to develop). Angles formed by cuts are ideally 45 degrees, with the downward slope toward the rosebush’s center.

Lastly, Critique Your Pruning Techniques and Heed our Advice

Expert advice to remember: You can always take growth out, but you can never graft it back onto the rosebush. Well-cared-for rose bushes may last for more than 50 years, and the bud union will become big and gnarled. Remember that new canes are produced every year and are considered young only for the first two years, then middle-aged for one year. After that, they are old. How did the rosebushes make it through winter? Did they bloom as expected in spring? Note your techniques year after year, the results of your efforts, review them each fall or winter, and you’ll be an expert rose gardener in no time!

Quick Answers on Pruning Shrubs and Bushes

If You Read One Article About Pruning Bushes – Read This One!

 

 Hollywood actors often talk of “disappearing” into roles, where they aim for a performance so natural it looks effortless to those taking it in. They don’t want their method to be overly apparent, and it’s the same for many forms of art. It certainly applies to landscaping: you do want your garden to be enjoyed by visitors, but probably don’t want them noticing every cut on your freshly pruned bushes or shrubs. Like all artists, you’ll need to consider some fundamentals before your diligent shrub and bush pruning efforts are so well-executed that they appear … well, effortless.

 

  • First, understand why pruning is healthy for the plant itself. Both natural styles and more formal topiary pruning can add beauty and visual interest to a landscape. Pruning gets rid of dead or injured branches and – whether using the more severe “heading back” method or “thinning”– allows more light into the inner canopy of the shrub and can encourage health and growth in the desired areas.
  • Second, know that proper pruning is a safety measure for your home and property. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says that “during the 2003 ranging California fires, a number of homes were saved as a result of the owner’s careful pruning and landscaping techniques that protected their homes.” The USFA offers many prevention tips on smart pruning for defensible space and a fire-safe landscape.
  • Third, learn how to prune correctly. Understanding how to properly prune bushes or shrubs requires that you know or research a host of issues: the kinds of shrubs planted, which pruning method they best respond to, the natural form and shape of the plant itself, which tools to use (and whether they need to be sanitized between cuts), and when a shrub may need to be replanted in a better-suited location.

 

With some research and preparation, you can have beautiful, healthy shrubs that look like a million bucks. And if you need some guidance from a landscaping professional, contact us a call today!