4 Common Pruning Mistakes And How You Can Avoid Making Them

Are you a new homeowner who's about to tackle pruning the trees and shrubs in your yard? Following are four common tree pruning mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Using Dull Tools

Dull tools don't make clean cuts. Instead, you're left with torn tissues and jagged edges that offer ideal conditions for pathogens to gain entry to the tree's inner vascular system. You can keep your pruning tools sharp by using an inexpensive diamond file on them. You'll need to clean them first with a warm, soapy water, dry them thoroughly, and remove any rust with a scouring pad prior to sharpening them. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes once you have it down.

Not Disinfecting Tools Properly

Pruning tools should be disinfected after being used in order to prevent the spread of disease and fungal organisms. You can purchase disinfecting agents from home and garden retailers designed for use on garden tools, but simply rubbing them down with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol is equally effective and comes at a fraction of the cost. Just be sure to store the alcohol in a safe area away from heat and open flames -- it's very flammable.

Not Doing Your Homework

Some homeowners simply get out their pruning shears and hack away at what they think needs to be removed, but this strategy rarely results in an attractive, healthy landscape. Taking the time and effort to familiarize yourself with the cultural requirements of the individual species of the trees and shrubs in your yard will help you make good pruning choices. For instance, before pruning your rhododendron, you should know that rhododendrons produce flower buds for the following year during late spring and early summer, so if you prune them in the fall, you'll end up with rhododendron without any flowers the following spring. Always prune them immediately after their bloom season has come to an end.

Entrusting the Job to Unskilled Labor

Homeowners sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the person who mows their lawn and weeds their flower beds is a good choice for pruning tasks. However, pruning trees and shrubs is skilled work that, if not performed properly, can completely ruin the look of your landscaping within a short period of time. You may even end up with diseased trees and shrubs that need to be replaced.

Your local tree care professional can provide you with more information on how to properly prune the trees and shrubs on your property.