Pruning is a critical aspect of maintaining the health and aesthetic appeal of trees and shrubs. However, without the right tools or knowledge, pruning can cause harm to your plants. Using pruning tools requires a basic understanding of how each tool functions and when to use it. In this article, we will provide a guide to properly using pruning tools.
Types of Pruning Tools
Pruning shears are ideal for cutting small branches and stems. They come in two types: bypass and anvil. Bypass pruning shears have a sharp, curved blade that cuts against a flat surface, similar to scissors. Anvil pruning shears have a straight blade that cuts against a flat surface, like a knife on a cutting board. Bypass pruning shears are the preferred option, as they provide a cleaner cut and are less likely to damage the plant.
Loppers are similar to pruning shears, but they have longer handles and larger cutting blades. They are designed for cutting thicker branches, up to two inches in diameter. Like pruning shears, they come in bypass and anvil options. Bypass loppers are the preferred option, as they provide a cleaner cut and are less likely to damage the plant.
Pruning saws are designed for cutting thicker branches, up to four inches in diameter. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, including curved and straight blades. Curved blades are ideal for cutting thicker branches, while straight blades are perfect for cutting thinner branches. When selecting a pruning saw, choose one with a comfortable handle and a blade that is appropriate for the size of the branches you will be cutting.
Pole pruners are designed for cutting high branches. They consist of a pruning saw or pruning shears attached to a long pole. Pole pruners come in manual or electric options, with electric pole pruners being more efficient for cutting high branches.
When to Use Pruning Tools
Pruning should be done when the plant is dormant, in late winter or early spring. However, some pruning can be done during the growing season to remove dead or diseased branches. Always inspect the plant before pruning to determine which branches need to be removed. Only remove branches that are dead, diseased, or damaged, as removing healthy branches can harm the plant.
How to Properly Use Pruning Tools
Pruning Shears and Loppers
When using pruning shears or loppers, hold the tool in your dominant hand and the branch in your other hand. Place the blade of the pruning shears or loppers against the branch, near the base of the branch. Make a clean cut through the branch, avoiding crushing or tearing the bark. For thicker branches, make a cut on one side of the branch, then make a cut on the other side to remove the branch completely.
When using a pruning saw, hold the saw in both hands and start the cut with the tip of the saw blade. Use a back and forth motion to cut through the branch, using the entire length of the blade. Avoid applying too much pressure, as this can cause the blade to bend or break. For thicker branches, make a cut on one side of the branch, then make a cut on the other side to remove the branch completely.
When using a pole pruner, follow the same principles as pruning shears, loppers, or pruning saws. However, use caution when cutting high branches, and always use a sturdy ladder or platform to ensure your safety.
Maintaining Pruning Tools
Proper maintenance of pruning tools is essential to ensure their effectiveness and longevity. After each use, clean the tool with a damp cloth to remove any sap or debris. Sharpen the blades regularly with a sharpening tool, as dull blades can damage the plant and require more effort to make a clean cut. Lubricate the tool with oil or grease to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
Using pruning tools can be dangerous, especially when working at heights. Follow these safety tips to avoid injury:
- Wear protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and long sleeves and pants.
- Use a sturdy ladder or platform to reach high branches.
- Do not overreach or stand on the top rungs of a ladder.
- Keep the blade of the pruning tool pointed away from your body.
- Cut at an angle to prevent the branch from falling and causing injury.
Properly using pruning tools is essential to maintaining the health and aesthetic appeal of trees and shrubs. Knowing which tool to use and when to use it, as well as proper maintenance and safety precautions, can make the difference between healthy, vibrant plants and damaged or diseased ones.
If you are unsure about how to properly use pruning tools or have concerns about the health of your trees and shrubs, consider contacting a professional arborist. Ballarat Arborist offers a range of services, including tree and shrub pruning, removal, and maintenance. Contact us today for a free estimate and let us help you keep your plants healthy and beautiful.