How and When to prune trees and bushes

When talking about tree pruning, knowing how and when to do it is vital. Many are the factors involved in defining the right way and time for pruning, including the type and age of the tree, the weather, the purpose of pruning, etc. From the integral study of all the factors arises how and when to prune each tree.


Keep in mind that the how and when should always go hand in hand. Since it is useless to perform an excellent pruning if you do it out of season, or perform it in the right season but in an inappropriate way. From this basic principle this blog was created to which we gave the name

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1. What is pruning?


Pruning is nothing other than a tree maintenance technique. It is as necessary as it is dangerous, since if it is done incorrectly it can cause irreparable damage to the plant.

The wounds that are generated with pruning have an important impact on the processes of the plant. An incorrect cut can cause serious damage to the tree or even death. To prune properly, it is important to understand the appropriate techniques and how each type of tree or shrub responds.

How and when to prune

Depending on the type of plant, pruning will have one or the other objective, for example; in fruit trees it is sought to increase the yield of the fruit, in forest production it is used to obtain straighter and less branched stems, in urban trees it is used to prevent the risk of falling branches, in floral plants it is carried out to seek a better flowering , etc.

2. Tools necessary for pruning


The success or not of a pruning is closely linked with the correct selection of the tool for the task. The range is very wide at the time of this selection, but generally for each type of pruning there is an ideal tool, among them we can mention the following:

  • Hand Pruning Shears: Stems up to half inch in diameter can be pruned with hand shears.
  • Lopping Shears: It is suitable to use on stems between half inch and 2 inches in diameter.
  • Saws: A number of pruning saws are available. These saws come with either curved or straight blades and of variable lengths and points. Curved blades that cut on the draw stroke are easy to use.
  • Chainsaw: for the thickest branches the most recommended is the use of these saws with motor.
  • Hedge Shears: Manual and power shears are available for trimming hedges. Manual shears have long, flat blades with relatively short handles and are good for small jobs. Electric shears are a good choice for larger hedges.
  • Ladder, crane, scaffolding: in trees of a certain height you will need elements that allow you to rise to perform pruning, depending on the type of pruning and type of tree it will be enough with a ladder, a scaffold or a crane.
  • Elements of personal safety: any pruning task entails risks, and if it is also carried out at height the risks increase. Keep all the protection elements available (helmet, harness, gloves, glasses, etc.). And as we noted in the previous point, try not to take risks and hire a pruning professional for risky tasks like this.
  • Elements of personal safety: any pruning task entails risks, and if it is also carried out at height the risks increase. Keep all the protection elements available (helmet, harness, gloves, glasses, etc.).

In general, manual pruning tools are easy to use, things get complicated with power tools (eg chainsaw). For the latter we recommend careful use, and if possible seek a professional for handling.

3. Pruning trees and shrubs safely


Pruning is undoubtedly the most dangerous task of maintaining trees and / or shrubs, to perform it without taking into account certain aspects very serious incidents can occur.

3.1 The Greatest Dangers

Among the most serious incidents that can occur during the pruning of a tree we can mention:

  • Electrocution: You can be seriously injured or die if you come into contact with a power line.
  • Tree Falls: You can be seriously injured or die if you fall from a tree.
Fall of branches during pruning
  • Limb cutting: You can cut or cut to third parties while handling pruning tools, the most dangerous in this regard is the chainsaw.
  • Being Hit by Trees or Branches: You can be seriously injured or killed if you are hit by a tree or falling branches.

3.2 Incident prevention

There are several aspects to consider before and during pruning to minimize the chances of an accident occurring.

  • Protective equipment suitable for the task: helmets, gloves, safety boots, climbing equipment, safety glasses, etc.
  • Inspection before starting: it consists in analyzing the potential dangers of carrying out the work. Based on this previous analysis, an attack plan and appropriate equipment must be chosen to perform a safe job.
  • Minimum approach distances: there are many occasions when you should work near electrical wiring, depending on the voltage of the same there are distances that can be approached. Consult the electricity supplier before working.
  • Prevent tree falls: to avoid falling from a tree it is essential to climb trees using a rope or harness and use additional anchor points whenever possible. Never climb freely.
  • Avoid Being Hit by Trees or Branches: a well-planned work must take into account how the branches cut from the tree will descend, if they will be dropped freely, a high accident risk will always be associated.
  • Safe use of a Chainsaw: without a doubt this is the most dangerous pruning tool, do not leave it in the hands of an inexperienced.
  • Make the cuts safely: cutting small branches is always simple, but when the branches are of an important size it can get complicated. There are good practices to make the cut cleaner and safer.
Safe branch cut

4. How to prune trees and shrubs


It is difficult to give guidelines on how to prune a tree in general, since there are many factors that are at stake when defining the correct pruning mode. To mention an example, I can tell you that nothing has to do the pruning of a rose bush with the pruning of a lemon tree, on the other hand nothing has to do a rejuvenation pruning with a production pruning in a fruit tree, and so we could give many more examples.

In general, to perform a proper pruning, you must take into account the type of plant, its age and the objectives. When we talk about objectives we mean the reason for the task. Is it a training pruning ?, Do you want to eliminate dry and diseased branches ?, Are you looking to rejuvenate your plant ?, etc.

I recommend that you explore the categories of this website so you will find how to prune your plant, in case you do not specifically find your plant, you can follow the pruning advice of a similar plant or contact me to help you. 😉

5. When to prune your trees or bushes


As with the correct pruning method, defining the right time is closely linked to many factors. Therefore, I recommend that you search our website for the most suitable article to find when pruning your tree or shrub.

So you do not leave empty-handed of this section, I leave some general tips on when to prune your plants:

1- Conifers: can be pruned at any time of the year, but pruning in the latent season minimizes the loss of sap and resin by cutting branches.

2- Hardwood trees and shrubs without showy flowers: prune in the latent season to easily see the structure of the tree, maximize the closure of wounds in the growing season after cutting, reduce the risk of communicable diseases and avoid excessive loss of sap. Fresh wounds and oozing essences attract insects that spread tree diseases. For example, the elm wounds attract the bark beetle, bearer of spores of the Dutch elm fungus, and the wounded oak attracts the beetle that carries the wilting fungus. Prune both species at the right time of year, so as not to spread these deadly diseases. Consult the local tree disease specialist to know when you should prune those species in your region. Ordinarily, the best time is late autumn and winter.

3- Floral trees and shrubs: these should also be pruned in the latent season, for the above reasons; However, in order not to lose the production of flowers of the current year, save them according to the following calendar:

  • Trees and shrubs that bloom at the beginning of spring (cyclamen, wild cherry, etc.) should be pruned immediately after flowering (as flower buds sprout the year before flowering, they will form on the new stems).
  • Many floral trees are susceptible to scorching due to necrosis, a bacterial disease that can be spread by pruning. Those trees, like many varieties of wild apple, hawthorn, pear, rowan, quince and piracanto, should be trimmed in the latent season. The extension agent or a local horticulturist will give you more information.
  • Trees and shrubs that bloom in summer or fall should always be pruned in the latent season (flower buds will form on new shoots in the next growing season, and flowers will open normally). Dead branches: can be removed at any time of the year.

We could continue to give general advice for a long time, but they would cease to be general. Therefore, I recommend that you search the web for more specific information, and if necessary, do not hesitate to contact me. 🙂