Written by David S.
Many shrubs and trees should only be pruned in the fall or winter after they have gone dormant for the year. Pruning is a mystifying chore that becomes more accessible when you have the right tools for the job. In addition, certain plants produce more blooms when you prune them. An example is the butterfly bush which produces flowers only on new wood (growth.) Pruning back the butterfly bush before spring encourages new growth. In bonsai terms, we would call this ramification – the production of new branches through the art of pruning.
In this blog, we go over a few of the standard pruning tools that you might find helpful when it comes to pruning back your landscape this fall.
1. Hand Sheers — Manual Hand Pruners
Hand sheers are essential. They are easy to carry, and you use them year-round all over the yard. They are handy for garden work, landscaping chores, and for getting rid of taller weeds. There so many styles of hand sheers. It is a good idea to have a few different styles. Those with long thin snips are helpful for cutting flowers and small branches. Those with thicker jaws make it easier to handle small branches.
TIP: One complaint about hand tools is that they are sometimes uncomfortable. We recommend stopping by any of our five Southern California locations and holding pruners and other hand tools. Get a feel for how they work and see if they fit your hand. A quality hand tool should be an extension of your hand. Also, pair your hand sheer purchase with a pair of quality work gloves. Buying both together means that you can get a feel for how the gloves and sheers will work together.
2. Long-handled Pruners
Long-handled pruners are generally the perfect tool for branches that are up to 3/4 of an inch thick. The handles should be around one foot long to provide enough leverage to force the blade through the branches. Pruners with 1 1/2 foot handles are ideal for pruning most shrubbery and shaping smaller trees.
These handy tools help you keep your shrubs in order and can also help with shaping small trees.
3. Loppers — Large and Medium
Loppers are a step-up from pruners. They handle branches up to two inches in diameter. Loppers with 18″ handles are ideal for smaller branches to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Loppers with 24″ handles can cut through limbs that are two inches thick.
If you are gathering tools for the first time, focus on the range of usage for pruning tools. A short-handle pruner and a long-handled lopper are probably all you need. Add a quality pair of hand pruners to that list, and your arsenal of pruning tools is nearly complete.
To handle branches more than 1 1/2 inches in diameter, a pull saw or bow saw are handy and neither require gas or electricity to work. Professional tree trimmers carry both to help them trim thicker branches without having to use a power tool.
4. Hedge Sheers
Hedge sheers are essential if you have a hedge. The basic handheld hedge sheers are perfect for trimming hedges of all sizes. They are easy to use, and will last for decades with good care. Look for a quality pair of hedge sheers with good action, There is a lot of repetitive motion in trimming a hedge and a smooth operating action — opening and closing the sheers — makes the job easier.
The Basic Tool Kit for Pruning
These four tools are essential tools for pruning. But, do you need them all? No. It would help if you bought quality pruning tools that fit your chore list. Quality pruners will last you a lifetime if you take care of them. Keep them sharp, oiled, and covered, especially if you live near the ocean. Rust is an issue with most tools, and oiling them and cleaning them after every use is the only and best way to avoid rusting.
If the pruners you choose have wooden handles, pick up some urethane or varnish. Each fall, lightly sand the handles and then apply the sealant. Doing so will help prevent blisters, slivers and will keep the wood supple and strong for years of use.
As an addition, consider adding a quality oil and sharpening tool to your cart. The oil helps keep pruners in good working order, and the sharpener will make it easier to maintain that sharp edge to the cutters.
Always make safety job one with your landscape chores. If you use a ladder, be sure it is stable and secure and have someone help you. Call a professional tree trimmer for tall jobs. Gloves are also an essential part of pruning, and Green Thumb Nursery carries a range of gloves for all levels or yard chores.
At Green Thumb Nursery, we stock an excellent selection of tools, including pruning tools. We recommend that you stop by and browse the selection of pruning tools. Please pick them up and hold them to see how they feel in your hands. Pruning tools should fit your hand and feel comfortable when you open and close the blades. Tools that are not comfortable to use are the main ingredient in procrastination of pruning chores, hand injuries, and muscle strain. Working safely and in comfort makes pruning chores more enjoyable.
While you are in the store, be sure to chat up the plant experts who can show you pruning and other tools, answer your questions, and help you select the best tool for your pruning job. Don’t forget that as the holiday’s approach we have a range of gift certificates available too.
If you are looking for a special tool, give us a call. We will happily check our inventory and let you know if it is in stock. We may also be able to order it for you. We have five Green Thumb Nursery locations throughout beautiful Southern California.
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