Winter is the ideal time to prune and tidy up to encourage new growth in spring. Pruning is to improve shape, keep neat and maintain size, it also stimulates new growth and encourages flowering. One age old question is what to prune and how much to take off? If you’re new to the gardening and pruning fame consider the plant if it’s not over grown or doesn’t look too big in the spot it’s in (remember it will grow) don’t touch it. If the plant has become too big and how straggly, cut it back to the size you want it.
Do you or don’t you?
If you’re cautious you could use the general rule of thumb and trim back a third but don’t expect a lot of regrowth until spring. Then give it a light trim.
The short back and sides
A lighter trim encourages dense foliage and better flower generation.
Tips before pruning
Always use sharp clean tools to prune. Blunt tools will make the job harder and damage the plants. Dirty blade could pass disease from one cut to the next. To clean your tools solutions such as watered down disinfectants, i.e. Dettol or Pine O Clean, do the job well. There are a number of sharpening stones on the market that can keep your tools in top notch condition. Be careful to follow the pre-established blade angle.
Tools for the job
Secateurs: These will be your best friend in the garden, but they won’t be able to do everything. They cut up to 22mm. If one hand cannot comfortably cut the branch this is not the tool to use. If you have petite hands look for a secateurs that can adjust to the size of fits you.
Pruning Saw: If secateurs won’t do the job then a pruning saw will. A pruning saw should have a comfortable handle for better grip. Ideally a stop at the end of the handle prevents the hand from slipping.
Loppers: A giant pair of secateurs with long handles that require both hands. Used for thicker woodier stems up to 40mm. The handles give greater transfer of force and increased cutting power. Look for comfortable grip handles and double stops that are gentle on the wrists.
Hedge Clippers: Are not for cutting more than a few mm thick in diameter, used for trimming and shaping. Look for wave blades if you’re looking for faster more efficient cutting or straight blades for precise cuts.
Pole Lopper: Also known as a pole pruner these allow you to cut above your head up to 5 metres! If you are pruning trees and don’t wish to climb a ladder these are for you. There are either the GARDENA Starcut Lopper with a lopper head with all the mechanisms inside the pole or the combi system that allows you to interchange heads from saw to lopper or bow saw.