Pruning can be a somewhat mysterious garden task. You want to keep your plants healthy and looking their best, but you don’t want to harm your garden greenery by taking off too much. Earth911 had a chat with gardening expert Melinda Myers to find out exactly how and when to prune your plants for maximum growth with minimal effort. Read on for her top tips.
1. Prune with a purpose
If you tend to stress about over-pruning your plants, you’re not alone. Myers dubbed this common garden conundrum “pruning paranoia” and says it’s an anxiety that strikes even seasoned gardeners.
“You take little snips, little snips and then end up taking off the whole branch,” Myers says with a laugh. “Everybody is afraid of that.”
To quell your garden angst, Myers suggests only pruning to accomplish a specific task. Never prune because you feel like you have to, or because a friend or neighbor said you should. In most cases, you’ll be able to tell if a plant needs pruning simply by looking at it.
“You need to prune with a purpose in mind,” our expert suggests. “We don’t have to prune every day all the time.”
Most plants only need to be pruned occasionally to control size, provide shape or remove disease-infested areas (we’ll get to that later).
For larger plants like trees and shrubs, prune when plantings are younger to establish a framework. When these plants get a bit larger, you’ll need to call in a professional arborist or landscaper. He or she will have the tools and the know-how to get the job done.
Read on for specific examples to demystify the hows, whens and whys of pruning in the garden.
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