Use the right tool for the job and pruning will be much easier.
Trimming big trees
When pruning big trees, take care to prevent falling limbs.
Before making the first cuts through a heavy branch, prevent damage to whatever lies below by making a safety sling.
- Loop a sturdy rope over a higher branch and tie it securely to the branch to be pruned.
- As you cut the successive sections away, a helper holding the rope below can gently lower the newly pruned pieces to the ground.
A good set of trimming tools
A good set of trimming tools includes hand pruners, a pair of loppers and a pruning saw to handle large branches.
- Loppers are suited to jobs too large for shears and too small for saws.
- Manual or power hedge trimmers are also available for shearing dense plants that have smaller leaves and branches.
Curved bypass hand shears
These give the cleanest cut.
- Check to make sure they have a sturdy frame, a spiral-type spring between the handles, replaceable blades and a nonslip grip.
- Those with a thumb-operated lock allow you to put the shears into your pocket between cuts.
- When protected from moisture, a good pair of pruning shears will last for years.
What not to use
Avoid shears with lightweight folded metal frames that are likely to twist under heavy loads.
Those shears with a forged metal blade instead of replaceable blades can be sharpened, but they will become useless if the blade is nicked or chipped.
Anvil shears have a cutting blade that is pushed against a metal sole, or anvil.
- On the plus side, they cost less than bypass shears and are less likely to twist when cutting larger branches.
- On the downside, they can crush the wood as they cut and they leave a stub.
When pruning a branch, hold the shears so the upper blade faces toward the part of the branch that will remain on the plant.
- This way, any damage that might occur will be on the pruned branch instead of the one that’s staying with the plant.
Wear oven mitts for pruning
Oven mitts can come in awfully handy when it comes time to pruning trees, hedges and bushes — particularly those thorny devils, such as holly, firethorn and rose bushes.