‘Pruning mistakes’ to avoid this spring – always prune at an angle and clean garden tools

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Pruning the garden needs to be done several times throughout the year, depending on what plants are growing and how they are growing. To start with, it is essential that gardeners have the correct tools including a pair of loppers or a pair of sharp secateurs. According to Gardeners’ World, pruning at the wrong time of year, or in the wrong way, can lead to lots of problems.

They explained: “Most plants are pruned in winter, when dormant, but there are exceptions. Cherry and plum trees for example, are susceptible to silver leaf disease and should therefore be pruned in summer when the risk of infection is reduced.

“Likewise, most prune flowering shrubs immediately after flowering.”

Gardeners should conduct some research before starting to prune, to avoid removing flower beds.

Pruning too much is also often a problem as it can be hard to know how much to take off a certain tree or shrub.

According to Gardeners’ World, removing too much material at once can result in dieback of the roots, which could take several years for the tree or shrub to recover.

They added: “What’s more, if you prune out the leader (known as topping), the plant can go into shock.

“So, unless you’ve been directed to conduct a hard prune, make sure you prune less, more regularly.”

The node, which is where leaves, buds and shoots emerge, can also cause problems when it comes to pruning. 

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Gardeners should always cut above a node, as this prevents dieback and therefore disease.

The experts said: “Also, by cutting above a node you can manipulate new stems, leaves or flowers to form in a desired direction, as nodes form on different sides of a stem.

“Don’t cut too closely above a node as this can damage it, but avoid leaving more than one centimetre above the node as you will leave an unsightly stump, which can’t grow and may therefore die.”

Cleaning secateurs after pruning is also important as they will function better.

They may also be safer to use in the garden.

According to Gardeners’ World, if gardeners don’t sharpen their gardening tools, they are less likely to make a clean cut when pruning.

This can take longer to heal, meaning disease may enter the plant.

The experts added: “If you don’t clean and disinfect your tools after using them then you could unwittingly spread disease, such as canker, between plants.”

Pruning at an angle is also a must, as it helps water to run off the branch quickly.

If cut flat, the risk of fungal infections increases.

Gardener’s World continued: “There are several causes of die back, including bad planting, bad pruning, frost damage and physical damage.

“Sometimes, fungi can encase these dead shoots and cause canker, which spreads to other parts of the plant, potentially weakening it.

“It’s therefore important to prune out die-back and prevent disease.”

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