In the first part of this article we discussed the correct timing of pruning on most trees, shrubs and dwarf conifers. To recap that article, generally the best times to prune trees and shrubs are when they are dormant or just after flowering. The best time to prune dwarf pines like mugos, is while they are still candling. In this article we will discuss the
selecting and using the correct tools for pruning.
The old adage “ the right time to prune is when the saw is sharp” probably doesn't tell the whole story but pruning with dull tools is always a disaster.
The bests results come from professional-quality tools that are in good condition.
Most professionals use hand bypass pruners and pole pruners day in and day out. Bypass pruners work like scissors with two sharp blades opposite each other passing each other to making a clean cut. Anvil pruners bring the sharp blade down onto a flat surface, damaging the bark causing die back at the point of pruning.
For cuts up to ½ inch a pair of sharp hand pruners works best. Bypass loppers are over sized hand pruners that will cut branches up to 2 inches in diameter.
Loppers are sized to fit in between hand pruners and pole pruners and often stay on the shelf while the latter two tools do all the work.
A bypass pole pruner will work on overhead branches between ½ an inch and 1 inch. They also can be used for cutting low branches without bending over. For most homeowners 3 small 4 foot poles will be enough for shrub pruning. They are easier to fit in the trunk of your car as well.
Interchangeable saw heads can be attached for tall branches or removed and used as a hand saw to cut branches larger than one inch that won't fit into your pole pruner. Professional pole saw blades are readily available and will fit wooden hand saw handles as well.
Good tools will literally last you a lifetime so take the time to ask questions and get professional grade tools. Contact your certified Arborist for more information on shrub pruning and watch for the third part of this article dealing with pruning techniques.