Gardening > Pruning



© Emmric

Pruning, if carried out properly, can help to increase fruit yield or flower production. It keeps shrubs and trees healthy and literally in good shape. Most gardens look and function better if growth is kept under some control thus preventing overcrowding and light blocking.

Good pruning tools are essential. A pair of reasonable quality, large secateurs and a pair of lopping shears make most pruning jobs quick and simple. For large branches a pruning saw or even a chainsaw may be necessary. Pruning knives are often favoured by experts but they require a degree of skill to use them effectively.

Dead wood or diseased shoots need to be removed as soon as they are noticed whatever the time of year. Any other pruning must be done at the correct time of year for the particular tree or shrub in question.

Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves in the autumn (deciduous) are usually pruned when they are dormant during the winter. This is especially important if a large amount of wood needs to be removed. Pruning carried out at this time is less likely to lead to infection or to too great a check in growth.

Plum trees and other members of the Prunus family are exceptions to this rule. They can all be affected by a disease called silver leaf. To avoid this all Prunus species are best pruned whilst in full growth, ideally before mid-July.

Maple, horse chestnut, birch, walnut and cherry bleed a lot even at the end of their dormancy. They should be pruned in mid-summer after the new growth has matured.

Where the aim is to encourage flowers and fruit as opposed to shoot and leaf growth it is better to prune in the summer. Cordon and espalier fruit trees particularly benefit from late summer pruning.

Some shrubs such as Buddleia davidii flower on new growth so they should be pruned early in the year. This encourages a lot of new shoots that will flower later on.

Shrubs that flower on the previous season's wood need to be pruned just after flowering so that they have time to put out new shoots to mature for the next year's flowers. Shrubs that flower before the threat of frost is over should not be cut back too hard. Pruning of early flowerers can be completed in march when growth recommences.

When pruning try not to leave any rough edges around the cut; tidy the area up with a sharp knife. If faced with cutting off a large branch, cut it from underneath first then from above, about 1 foot away from the trunk.

Pruning Clematis

Small Flowered Species: Light pruning, enough to prevent overcrowding of shoots and to keep a good shape.
Large Flowered species (flowering in May and June): Trim back lightly after flowering.
Large Flowered Species (that flower on new wood later in the year): Cut back to within 1-3 feet of ground in February or March.


Hybrid T: In spring cut back had into previous year's wood, not into old wood. Remove all crossing shoots and dead wood and old stumps.
Floribunda: In spring cut back bit not hard. Remove any crossing shoots or branches.