There are many reasons to prune shrubs and trees, especially over winter. It can help to promote bigger growth, to train trees as cordons or espaliers plus it helps to encourage flowers, shape and remove dead and diseased wood. It is an important winter task and keeps those green fingers occupied in the colder months of the year.
- There are various pruning methods for different plants but the goal is almost always to ensure plenty of flowers and fruits in the coming seasons. So firstly know what you are pruning, there is plenty of resource available to look up but generally if you are pruning an apple tree you are doing it to promote fruiting spurs, fruit bushes such as Gooseberries and Redcurrants will need their stems cut back by a quarter and trim side shoots as well. If you have raspberries, cut out the canes that have already produces fruit but Autumn raspberries can have all of the stems cut down to the ground.
- If you have newly planted shrubs or trees the most important thing to encourage is a strong root system so most new shrubs can be cut right back so all of the energy goes into the root system. New trees need to be pruned to prevent wind rock.
- Winter is the ideal time to work on the structure of deciduous shrubs and allow good air circulation through the branches. Ensure you have some secateurs and loppers plus even a pruning saw for larger branches and always cut with the correct tool.
- It is really important to prune away any dead or diseased material on trees and shrubs. The best way to know if your plant is in good health is to keep an eye on it all year so you can see any changes that could be problematic.
- If you have plants growing especially for winter colours such as brightly stemmed Dogwoods, these can have a hard prune in late Winter a year after they were planted.
- Make sure you keep your tools in good shape and stored well so they are all in good condition as well. Rust and blunt tools can lead to damage on the plants you are pruning which can contribute to damage and disease.
Winter pruning is a great way to get outside over the quieter months, wrapped up with your hat and gloves, breathe in the fresh air and tend to your garden. Don’t forget to reward yourself afterwards with a cup of tea and write down everything you’ve pruned so you can refer to your notes in the following years and make sure you have it all covered.
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