Pro says to prune in early spring to get the perfect cut

by Stefanie Watson

As the days get longer and nature awakens, homeowners often find their landscape in dire need of attention but don’t know where to start. Pruning can be a great place to begin yard maintenance. It is also, however, where mistakes are commonplace, according to Tom Morel, president and founder of North Royalton-based Morel Landscaping.

Improper pruning can lead to a variety of problems with the health and longevity of your plants. Morel said homeowners can extend the life of their plants and contribute to a healthy, beautiful landscape by learning a few pruning essentials.

Pruning involves removing diseased, dead or weak branches. Done properly, it can prevent pests and diseases from spreading, improve air circulation and promote new growth. It can also improve the appearance of your landscape by removing unsightly dead branches or shaping your plants for aesthetic purposes.

According to Morel, basic trimming can be done year-round, except on the hottest days of summer. However, pruning – which is more aggressive – should be performed when the plant is not actively growing, typically during the dormant winter months or early spring before the onset of new growth. Dormant pruning can renew overgrown plants, he added, and save homeowners the steep cost of new landscaping.

Another consideration is the type of plant you are pruning. Different plants require different methods. 

“By far the most common mistake a homeowner can make is attempting to prune all of their plant material using the same technique,” Morel explained.

He suggested researching the appropriate pruning methods for your specific plants before getting the clippers out. To that end, selecting the right tools for the job, such as loppers, hand pruners, hand saws, pole saws and shears, is also key in successful pruning. It’s not one tool for all pruning, according to Morel.

Finally, if you are unsure or new to pruning, start small. Morel said jokingly, “It’s much easier to take a little less off than it is to try to reattach it!”

He also said homeowners should consider hiring a professional if they want peace of mind that the job is getting done right. Many, like him, are even happy to show you the proper tools and techniques. ∞