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Quick Tips for Pruning in Spring

Spring pruning is a quick and easy way to make a big difference in both the health of your foliage and the look of your garden.

Woman pruning bushes
Pruning removes dead or damaged branches, encourages airflow and directs healthy growth. Carefully pruning flowers also encourages them to produce more blooms. Spring is a great time to shape and control plants that have become overgrown or are invasive. Here are a few dos and don'ts to help you get started.
Garden pruners

Do select the right tools

Using the right tools for the job will save you time and effort. Pruners and loppers are both sharp, shear-like devices used to cut stems and branches. Pruners and shears are operated with one hand while loppers are larger and require both hands. Look for quality brands like Fiskars. Whether you are left-handed or right-handed, Fiskars are ergonomically designed with cushioned grip for comfort.

Loppers are ideal for trees, climbing vines and large shrubs. For heavy-duty cuts they provide greater leverage with minimal effort. For small trees and bushes look for lightweight models to make your pruning easier.

Also consider the type of blades you need. Anvil blades have a single sharp blade that crushes and tears off the stem, making it ideal for blunt cuts of dead branches and dry, hard and old growth. Bypass models have sharp blades that sweep past the lower sharpened jaw for a precise cut that's ideal for new growth.
Pruned purple flowers

Don't prune all your plants in spring

To determine which plants need to be pruned in spring you will need to know when they bloom. Trees and shrubs that flower in summer should be pruned in early spring. Those that bloom in spring, such as azaleas and lilacs, should be pruned in late spring after they flower. Generally, if a plant blooms in early spring you should wait until after they flower to cut it back.

For perennials, pruning mostly entails cutting off the previous year's growth from plants such as asters, black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia), purple coneflower (Echinacea) and sedum. Learn more about your plant needs with our online Plant Tag Library.

If you pruned a few of your plants in fall there may be no need to return to them in spring. If you are unsure about when your plants will bloom, consult our Plant Care Guides or ask a Certified Nursery Consultant at The Home Depot to learn more about plant variations and pruning needs.

Do research your rose before pruning

For roses, the method of pruning depends on where you live and what kind of roses you have. You may find in more northern regions that due to climate conditions you may be pruning a lot more weather-damaged or dead branches as opposed to in southern regions. For climbing roses that bloom in spring, get rid of the old, dead canes. Be sure to leave at least two to three buds on each stem.

Don't overprune young trees

Before pruning a tree it's important to consider it's age. A young tree can still be pruned with a scissor-type or bypass blade hand pruner for cleaner and accurate cuts. For more mature trees that have branches with a diameter of more than 1/2 an inch, it may be best to use lopping shears or a pruning saw.

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