Prune woody plants in autumn and winter
Pruning hard, woody stems and trunks can be tough work. Fortunately, the best time to do the job is after the weather cools. Plants slow growth for winter and the sap does not flow as quickly as in spring and summer. So it turns out that autumn and winter are also the best time for them to be pruned: they will bleed sap less and go through less shock since they are half asleep. Fruit trees, shade trees and woody shrubs all need trimming and pruning.
Always start with clean, sharp tools. This makes the job easier, cleaner and safer. It is actually easier to be injured with dull tools than sharp ones since you will have to awkwardly force more pressure on tools that do not cut smoothly.
Always wear gloves. Although you are not likely to cut the wrong thing, should your tool slip or even pinch your hand instead of the plant, you will thank yourself for having donned the protection. Gloves will also protect you from scratches, bruising or scrapes as you try to maneuver into tight spots. Gloves also keep fingers warmer in autumn and winter weather.
Cut branches on woody plants at a slight angle so water does not sit on a flat end and encourage fungus or rot.
Large branches should be cut slightly from the bottom up and then the top down so when the branch breaks off it doesn’t rip off a strip of bark.
Tree branches have collars where the branch joins the trunk. You can see the slight swell that makes the collar. Try to cut on an angle that follows the collar rather than cutting straight down, flush with the tree trunk. A flat cut can be hard for a tree to heal and can let in disease and insects. A cut along the angle of the collar will heal neatly and is healthier for the tree.
Clean cutting tools before moving onto the next plant. You can accidently transfer insect infestations or diseases on the blades of cutting tools from one plant to another — even in the cool weather of autumn and winter.
Try to recycle cut material. Chip wood or small branches for mulch. Use larger branches as benches. Cut tree stumps make small tables ideal for setting pots or for using as stools. Or fashion railings out of wood branches. Get creative. You can turn your woody plant prunings into garden décor or useful top dressings and save money while making your garden more attractive.
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