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Six Common Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

The primary purpose of pruning is to produce trees and shrubs that are healthy, safe and as beautiful as can be. Unfortunately, getting the job done properly isn’t quite as easy as randomly hacking away at things with whatever dilapidated tools you have lying around the shed.

There’s a reason trained arborists are routinely hired to take care of pruning projects of various magnitudes. If you aren’t sure exactly what you’re doing, there’s every chance you’ll come out doing more harm than good.

So if you do decide to go ahead with things yourself, take heed of the following six common mistakes and do your best to steer clear of them:

1. Routinely snipping the tips of the branches

Contrary to popular belief, snipping the tips of branches on a regular basis can be a huge mistake. While it’s assumed that making plenty of smaller cuts on a regular basis is better than heavy-handed periodic tree surgery, snipping the tips will only ever result in around half a dozen new branches sprouting in its place.

2. Chopping the top off a tree that’s getting too big

In a similar vein to the above-mentioned mistake, lopping the top off a tree that’s become a little too tall is not the way to go. The reason being because once again, any number of new branches will simply pop up and continue causing you problems. And as these start competing with one another, the overall structural integrity of the tree as a whole may be compromised.

3. Using blunt tools

Would a surgeon ever be willing to swap a scalpel for a butter knife?  Of course not – the same should also be true when it comes to tree (and shrub) surgery.  Old, overused and generally substandard pruning tools not only make the job more difficult than it needs to be, but can also cause catastrophic damage to your plants/trees.

4. Using unsanitary tools

The same also goes for using tools that haven’t exactly been kept in a sanitary condition. With every cut you make, you inherently leave something of a gaping wound that is open to infection. In order to minimise the likelihood of your precious plants and trees succumbing to disease, it’s wise to ensure that the tools you use are as clean and sanitary as possible.

5. Over pruning

Unsurprisingly, another extremely common mistake is getting well and truly carried away during the pruning process. When pruning trees for example, a rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t remove any more than 25% of the crown, or considerably less if the tree is mature.

6. Not pruning at all

Last up, there are still so many gardeners who believe that the best thing to do for the benefit of all involved is to simply let nature take its course.  Unfortunately, overlooking or ignoring pruning requirements entirely has a tendency to breed disaster. If you aren’t sure how or when to go about pruning any of the trees, shrubs or plants in your garden, find yourself an online tutorial or reach out to the experts for advice.

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