Pruning Basics

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Sustainable Lifestyle

Pruning Basics

“To prune or not to prune?” is the question we ask ourselves when our plants are not looking healthy or have become overgrown.  This is the best time of year to prune, while your plants are in dormancy.  In this issue, expert arborists explain their techniques on pruning for healthy plants.


David Proctor



Urban Farmer

Urban Farmer

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Pruning Basics

    by David Proctor

February 11, 2016

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


Pruning has some basic techniques that can be utilized by the novice pruner to know when and where to make those critical cuts.

Prune by using the four D’s to determine what to cut: dead, diseased, damaged, and dysfunctional.

Start with making sure that the tools you are using are sharp and clean.  There are many inexpensive products that can be purchased for sharpening pruning shears and loppers.  You want sharp tools to limit the crushing effect that you get when using one that is dull.

Start by removing dead and diseased limbs, and unwanted growth such as suckers and watersprouts.  Suckers are the growth from the root system and watersprouts are shoots that grow rapidly upward such as you will see when trees are top cut.

The “when” to prune is generally answered by when a plant is in dormancy.  There are exceptions to pruning during dormancy depending on the plant and the outcome that you want, but now is the time to remove dead branches and shape the plants for spring.

One article I read by Tom Del Hotal on Fruit Tree Pruning Basics, is a very in-depth and informative pdf that can be downloaded:

Fruit Tree Pruning
Tom gives many examples on what tools to use and where to make your cuts.  This is a good read and is only about seventy pages long.

Pruning helps plant vigor and keeps the plant in a healthy and attractive state for growth of blooms and fruit.  So sharpen your tools and give your plants that needed pre-spring cut and you will be rewarded with the fruit of your efforts. Pun intended.


How To Prune Fruit Trees Properly  5:40


Check It Out!

Quick Tip

“Use sharp pruning shears for any cuts on branches smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter. Use loppers or a pruning saw for larger diameter wood.

Cut thin diameter branches 1/4 inch above a bud that is facing in a direction you want the new branch to grow. Make the cut on an angle to shed water and promote faster healing.

Horizontal branches produce more fruit than vertical ones. Prune vertical branches back to a main stem or trunk.

In spring and summer, remove suckers arising from the base of the tree and watersprouts arising from branches. Depending on the cuts and type of tree, pruning can stimulate lots of this type of growth, so it’s best to remove it quickly so the tree can put more energy into growing fruiting branches.

Prune moderately every year to keep the tree healthy and fruiting consistently. The tendency of some fruit trees to bear in alternate years can be caused by insufficient pruning.”
Edible Landscaping with Charlie Nardozzi

Bibliography: by Tom Del Hotal

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