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How Do I Safely and Effectively Prune My Vines, Bushes, and Trees?

We want to help you understand how to prune your vines, bushes, and trees.

And as a quick aside --- we are here to help you purchase a new tractor when the time is right.

Let’s get to it.


We are going to begin with a quick definition.

Pruning is a horticultural and silvicultural practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as the roots, buds, and branches.


You are basically removing damaged, diseased, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from your crop and landscape plants.

In general, the smaller the branch that is cut, the easier it is for a woody plant to compartmentalize the wound --- and then limit the potential for any pathogen intrusion and decay.


Typically, pruning works best in the late fall or early winter.

Most plants respond well to pruning when they are dormant. Some species will tolerate light pruning during the growing season.

You may want to make any necessary formative structural pruning cuts to your young plants, rather than removing large, poorly-placed branches from mature plants.

Proper pruning will keep your perennial bushes, vines, and trees healthy and attractive while maintaining the beauty of your landscape.


There are some basic tools required for pruning.

Larger plants require specialized equipment.

Consider this a list of tools that may be required for the most effective pruning.

Here is a list of tools that might be needed for a wide range of pruning projects:

  • Bow Saw

  • Chainsaw

  • Hedge Shears

  • Electric Hedge Shears

  • Ladder

  • Handheld Pruning Shears ("Scissor")

  • Lopping Shears

  • Extension Pole Loppers (Saw Combination)

  • Small (Curved) Pruning Saw

This will help you tackle most of the pruning jobs you encounter.

Lighter hand tools will handle the smaller jobs.

Major pruning of your large tree limbs may require the use of pruning saws or even a chainsaw. Also, the pruning of major tall tree limbs may require the use of a ladder.


When pruning, always be aware of any electrical lines in the area.

It is advisable and recommended to use only wood or fiberglass poles.

When cutting over your head --- use eye protection to avoid falling dust and debris.

Also, beware of any sharp blades and cut carefully.

Stay safe.


Let’s take a moment to discuss a few techniques.

When using “scissored” pruning shears --- make sure to cut the limbs with the thin cutting blade near the main stem or trunk of the tree or bush. This will result in a clean cut.

For limbs larger than a ½ inch in diameter --- use lopping shears. These may be the "scissor" type or the "anvil" type. The scissor-type usually provides a cleaner cut. The anvil-type could crush the bark. This would cause a wound that will take a long time to heal.

When cutting elevated limbs (that are not too large in diameter), it may be better to use an extension pole saw, lopper, or a combination of both. The lopper will normally cut limbs up to 1/12 of an inch in diameter. The saw will cut even larger limbs. Be careful with the larger limbs. You need to avoid tearing the bark from the trunk below the cut.

Large Limbs

Here are some things to keep in mind when cutting large, heavy limbs.

Make the first cut on the underside of the limb --- a few inches from the trunk. The second cut should be on the top of the limb --- a little farther from the trunk. These cuts will avoid limb splitting --- as well as prevent you from peeling bark from the trunk of the tree.

After the limb is removed, the stub can be properly cut flush with the trunk. This will facilitate swift healing.

Major branches of a tree will have a natural collar. This is where the branch originated from the trunk. Limbs should be pruned back to the collar.

Do not cut into the trunk of the tree.

Also, do not leave a protruding stub. This stub will die. Any decay can damage the tree trunk.


Pruning methods vary.

Methods change depending on the target species.

For instance --- there are different requirements for roses as opposed to grapes.

There are some basic guidelines in pruning small shrubs or vines.

Make cuts on small branches on a slant, about a ¼ inch above the bud. If the distance exceeds ¼ inch --- the stub will likely die. If the cut is closer to the bud, then the bud will die.

Always remember that the new growth will grow in the direction that the bud is facing. This is not as important for some species. In the case of peaches --- it is very important. By pruning with the buds facing outward, the peach trees can be kept open. This allows sunlight to penetrate.