Why we prune

MG-Pruners-8286318We prune for several reasons – to keep plants healthy, to encourage bloom, to repair damage, and to maintain specific plants to a desired height, shape or size.

Fruit trees are pruned to encourage a better fruit crop and for easier gathering.

Deadheading flowers is a form of pruning. With most annuals and some perennials the spent blooms are removed after withering so that the seed cannot set. Once seed has set some plants think that their job is done and will not re-bloom until next season. Deadheading annuals encourages them to keep on blooming all summer in an effort to produce more seed.

Some shrubs, if left unattended, may quickly become untidy. Pruning will not only keep a shrub neat and tidy it will also improve the plant’s health.

Shrubs which bloom in the spring are cut back after the bloom has faded. Summer into the fall is the time of the year when they set their flower buds for the coming season. If cut back in the spring you will have removed the current year’s flowers. Once they have finished blooming they may be cut back to maintain a pleasing shape.

Shrubs which bloom in the fall may be cut back hard in the spring since they have time to develop flower buds through out the summer.

Pinching back is pruning done on tender young plants to produce multi side growth. This occurs most often with annual plants grown from seed.

Topiary, shaping evergreens into ornamental shapes, is also pruning and can add interest to the garden year round. Geometric shapes are perhaps most suitable for new topiarists.


Clean sharp hand tools are essential to doing a good job.

You will need good quality secateurs, a short hand saw, a long handled saw and loppers, depending on what and how you need to prune.

You may start the pruning year from January onward. Start by pruning apple and pear trees. Pick a bright sunny day with no wind when it will be pleasant to work outside. Gather your tools and dress warmly. Winter pruning will produce strong vigorous growth on fruit trees.

It is even better if there is snow on the ground as you can reach the branches more easily.

Pruning begins by removing broken or diseased limbs and branches which are rubbing or crossing each other. Open up the centre of the tree to encourage air circulation. Keep the tops of fruit trees cut to a height where you can easily pick the fruit with a ladder.

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