Spring Pruning Guide

Pruning is a fun and necessary gardening task but to most of us it can feel quite daunting. Don’t fret! Pick up those secateurs and let’s tackle this together!!

The main reasons we prune:

  • Improve health and vigour
  • Encourage fruit and flower production
  • Modify the shape or direct growth
  • Safety reasons

Bad reason to prune:

  • To control the size or height of a plant – if the tree is too tall, it shouldn’t have been planted in the first place!

The first step when preparing to prune a tree is to know the 4 D’s.

  1. Dead
  2. Diseased
  3. Dying
  4. Damaged

Always remove any of the above concerns on a tree or shrub. These cuts can be made at any time of the year. The four D’s, if left on the plant, are actually causing more damage and stress then if they were removed with a proper pruning cut.

Timing
The best time to prune most trees or shrubs is in the dormant (winter) season, before the plant has started to bud out. Trees that are dormant have an abundance of energy stored up. This allows them to repair any cuts made quickly when they come out of their dormant stage. They also spend lots of energy leafing out. This is why it is not recommended to do pruning in late Summer or Fall. If you remove too many of the leaves, the tree cannot produce enough food (energy) to repair itself. A tree can only do one thing at a time. This means it can grow, or repair itself from damage but not both at the same time.

How much to remove
A good rule is to never remove more than 20% of the tree. If you remove more than this, you will leave the tree without the means to produce enough food to repair itself or to prepare for its dormant season. Another good rule is any branch less than 2 inches in diameter is fine to remove. 2 inches to 4 inches should be carefully thought out before removing and if a branch is over 4 inches should only be removed for safety reasons. Trees will spend lots of energy to repair the pruning cuts. Remember, a tree can only do one thing at a time.

This is a good place to start when it comes to pruning. There is obviously much more to pruning depending on plant variety and proper pruning cut techniques. Oakridge Garden Centre has its own licensed arborist that can assist with any pruning concerns that may arise for you.

If you would like a free estimate on a pruning job, please contact us at 204-326-1015 to book.