Proper Pruning: Less = More

Pruning is one of those jobs where less equals more.

Save More Money. Plants don’t have to heal all the cuts and recover, so they need less water. This saves you money on your water bill.

Save More Time. Spend less time pruning and more time enjoying your yard.

Have More Healthy Plants. Less pruning makes for healthier plants. It reduces the chance of weakened growth and potential loss of large tree limbs onto the home or car. It could save you money on your car insurance! (wink)

Save even More money. Less pruning saves you money yet again – because it uses less taxpayer dollars on landfill space for green waste.

You just need three things.

Need # 1. A little understanding.
All plants have a definite appearance that is specific to their species. These characters are genetically determined, and the plant will never stop trying to fulfill its genetic destiny.

Plants have their shape, their form, and their mature size all genetically predetermined. Shapes include rounded, oval, pyramidal, rectangular, trapezoidal, and more. Forms can be weeping, spreading, angular, and more. Top this off with a mature size – which plants will always try to attain. All these factors must be considered when selecting a plant, and also when pruning it.

palm-arizona-fanpalm
Two different species of Washintonia palm. One species is naturally tall and slender, the other genetically coded to be is short and stout.

If you do not like the form, shape, size, or even color of a particular plant – do both of you a favor and simply kill it now. Then get a plant you will be happy with. In the long run it will cost you great deal less time, money, and aggravation.

Need # 2. A Few Tools.
The tools for proper pruning are few. A high quality pair of hand clippers and a top quality hand pruning saw will be sufficient for all the pruning work you should be doing. No need for a chain saw. Chain saws are not pruning equipment. Chain saws are for lumberjacks and arborists. (Oh look – you can save money on tools!)

Need # 3.

Train your young plants right, then leave them alone. Even this training doesn’t need much, just a few little branches here and there. Trim them before they get big and create massive scars that are hard to heal. Noted U of A professor Steve Fazio taught scores of us Plant Sciences students, “If you have more than a single handful of branches when you are done pruning, you’re doing something wrong.”

I will discuss the five steps of pruning next week.

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