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05/02/11 06:10 PM

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Refer a Neighbor... or a Friend

Receive one free Fertilizer and Weed control application on your next service when you refer a neighbor or a friend to Guaranteed Turf Care and they sign up for our Nature Green or Weekender Mowing program.

Pruning is a horticultural practice that is necessary in any landscape that contains shrubs or trees. Pruning not only helps improve the look of the landscape, but also serves as great preventative maintenance. Pruning changes the form and growth of a plant so it can reach its full potential. Read on to learn how and when to prune in Minnesota.

Understanding the natural "habit" or shape of shrubs will help you determine how to prune them. All shoots grow outward from their tips. Whenever tips are removed the lower buds are stimulated to grow. Buds are located where leaves are attached to twigs and branches called nodes. Each node produces one to three buds, depending on the shrub species. Shrubs have mounding, cane, or tree-like growth habits.

Most people think pruning is simply the process of hacking down overgrown trees or shrubs, but there are three main reasons why we prune our plants. Pruning promotes plant health, improves plant appearance, and maintains your plants. Removing dead or diseased branches and removing parts of a plant with an insect problem with help with overall plant health. Pruning also improves overall plant appearance by controlling size and shape. Appearance in the landscape is crucial to the plants usefulness. Plants that are pruned properly will look much better and be less susceptible to disease. 

One of the questions I am most often asked is this: “When should I prune my plants?” There are two rules that need to be followed when pruning. The first rule is for any shrub that flowers early in the spring on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they are finished flowering. Here are some examples: Lilacs, forsythia, azalea, and more. The second rule is that shrubs that bloom on new growth should be pruned in late fall or spring before buds break. Examples: Most Spireas, dogwoods, ninebark, alpine currant, etc.  The best time to prune in Minnesota in my opinion is June because the appearance and shape will look good throughout the summer months.
There are many different types of tools used for pruning. Using the right tools will make pruning easier and help you do a good job. Keeping tools well-maintained and sharp will improve their performance. Here is a list of typical tools used in pruning.
A good pair of pruning shears is probably one of the most important tools. Cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter may be made with them.

Lopping shears are similar to pruning shears, but their long handles provide greater leverage needed to cut branches up to 11/2 inches in diameter.

Hedge shears are meant only for pruning hedges and mass plantings. They usually cut succulent or small stems best.

Hand saws are very important for cutting branches over 1 inch in diameter. Many types of hand saws are available. Special tri-cut or razor tooth pruning saws cut through larger branches up to 4 inches in diameter with ease.
Pole saws allow for extended reach with a long handle, but they must be used carefully as it’s difficult to achieve clean cuts with them.

Small chain saws are available for use on larger branches. Operators must wear protective clothing and exercise caution when using them. Never use chain saws to reach above your shoulders, or when you are on a ladder.

In conclusion, pruning is not only needed for the health of the plant, but also for enhancing the beauty and overall look of your property and its landscape. 

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