The winter months seem like a good time to prune unwieldy perennials, not least because it’s possible to quite literally ‘see the wood for the trees’ now that deciduous plants lay bare and dormant, giving you a much better view on what needs pruning and what should be left alone.
If you’ve got your shears and hedge trimmer to hand, and you’re game to do some February trimming, here are a few tips on how to best go about it:
Don’t Leave Branch Stubs Behind
Cut branches back to be flush with the main stem they are connected to. A stub can actually weaken the plant as it’s likely to decay and weaken the surrounding branch structure, not to mention that it will drain unnecessary water and nutrients from the rest of the plant. You shouldn’t try to seal the wound left by cutting a branch away with a pruning sealant, with the exception being branches on oak trees, where it can serve to protect the the tree from being invaded by oak wilt fungus.
Fruit Trees Require The Most TLC of All
If you’re lucky enough to have fruit trees in your garden then you’ll need to give them extra care and attention, particularly peach and plum trees. Aim to get rid of all vertical shoots whilst maintaining a low canopy form to the trees. You must continue this process year after year.
Cut Coniferous Trees One Branch at a Time
Evergreen plants such hollies and juniper trees should be cut back one branch at a time. Using loppers aim to cut back the longest branch at the top of the canopy, moving on to the next longest branch, continuing until the canopy is at a height that suits your taste. If you don’t take this methodical approach you might end up left with a ragged mess rather than a tidy well manicured tree or shrub. Believe me when I say it’s easily done!