Spring Pruning 101

Categories: Grow, How-To

As the spring garden returns to life, it's the perfect time for pruning. Essential for the health of perennials, trees and shrubs, pruning in spring sets your plants up for success all season long. We asked two of our experts, Amelia B. and Kerry Ann M., for their advice on spring pruning. Read on for their tips and tool recommendations.

Deadwooding: As summer and fall-flowering shrubs start to leaf out for spring, it's the perfect time to trim away any dead branches. Depending on the size of the branch, you can use a set of sturdy pruners, lopping shears, or a pruning saw. Pruning saws are ideal for trimming any branches that are over 2.5" in diameter. Plants that particularly benefit from spring deadwooding include hydrangea macrophylla, grapevines, some clematis varieties, and physocarpus. Be sure to avoid pruning any spring-flowering plants during this time of year.
Deadwooding Tools: Cut and Hold Pruner, Lopping Shears, Folding Pruning Saw, Japanese Steel Pruning Saw

Thinning: For dense shrubs like boxwoods, thinning can help to promote green growth in the plant's interior. In spring, selectively prune away old interior branches to encourage new growth. A pruner that holds the freshly-snipped branches is ideal, because it allows the cut branches to be easily removed from the shrub. 
Thinning ToolsCut and Hold Pruner

Perennials: To promote healthy growth, remove any old foliage, seed heads, or stems from your perennials before the emergence of new growth. Spring is also the perfect time to snip away old rosehips from your roses. Choose a standard hand pruner for non-woody plants, or needle nose pruners for precision work on more delicate specimens. 
Perennial Pruning Tools: Opinel Hand Pruner, Needle Nose Pruner

Trees: Some trees produce extra shoots called suckers and water sprouts, which can be cut back in early spring to preserve the shape of the tree. Suckers emerge from the base of the tree around the trunk, while water sprouts are straight-standing shoots that emerge from the branches.
Tree Pruning ToolsCut and Hold Pruner, Opinel Hand Pruner

Maintenance & Safety: Keep your tools as sharp as possible for every cut made during pruning. Sharper tools minimize damage to your plants and encourage faster healing. To protect your hands and arms, choose sturdy gloves with a long cuff for roses or thorny shrubs. If spring is cool in your region, a pair of insulated garden gloves can make pruning tasks easier.
Maintenance Tools & Gloves: Sneeboer Tool Maintenance Kit, Leather Gauntlet Garden Gloves, Burgon & Ball Garden Gloves

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