Mastering Winter Pruning: Essential Tips for a Thriving Garden

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As mid-winter takes hold, it’s time to start preparing your garden for the upcoming spring. Pruning during the winter months promotes healthy growth, enhances flowering and fruiting, and prevents disease.

By using the right tools and techniques, you can keep your garden looking its best and ensure that your plants thrive. Whether you’re a novice gardener or a seasoned pro, understanding the principles of pruning will help you maintain a beautiful and productive garden year-round.

How and what to prune

Pruning removes certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. This enhances the plant’s health, improves its appearance, and promotes better growth and productivity.

By cutting away dead, damaged, or diseased parts, you help prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Pruning also allows for better air circulation and sunlight penetration, which are crucial for the plant’s overall well-being.

Pruning can also shape the plant, control its size, and encourage the production of flowers, fruits, or foliage. It’s part of the maintenance task supports the long-term vitality and aesthetic appeal of your plants.

Five tips for winter pruning

1. Assess Your Garden

Identify the Plants That Need Pruning

Walk through your garden and make a note of the plants that require pruning. Common candidates for winter pruning include fruit trees, shrubs, and hedges. Pay close to any plants that have grown too large or didn’t thrive well last season. These are the ones that will attention to plants that have become overgrown or those that didn’t perform well the previous season.

Check for Damaged, Diseased, or Dead Branches

Inspect each plant for any branches that are damaged, diseased, or dead. These branches should be the first to go, as they can harbour pests and diseases that might spread to healthy parts of the plant. Removing them improves the overall health of your plants.

2. Prune Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

Can you prune trees in winter? Most certainly! Popular deciduous trees like the Japanese maples, silver birches, plane trees (sycamores), liquidambar trees (sweetgums), and dogwood trees (Cape ash) require annual winter pruning.

Likewise, deciduous shrubs like Buddleja (butterfly bush), fuchsia, hibiscus, hydrangea paniculata, and spirea japonica benefit from cutting back in winter. During the winter months, deciduous plants shed leaves and send food reserves to their roots. Pruning allows them to regrow and balance roots with top growth.

Remove Crossing, Rubbing, or Inward-Growing Branches

For deciduous trees and shrubs, look for branches that cross over each other, rub against each other, or grow inward. Removing these branches improves air circulation and sunlight penetration, which are essential for the plant’s health.

Thin Out Crowded Branches

Reducing the number of crowded branches helps minimize the risk of disease by allowing more light and air to reach the inner parts of the plant. This also helps to shape the plant and encourages the growth of stronger, healthier branches.

3. Prune Fruit Trees

Focus on Removing Water Sprouts and Suckers

Prune pear, apple and plum trees in winter sets the stage for a fruitful season. Pruning not only keeps the trees productive but also prevents fungal infections by allowing better air circulation and removing infected growth.

Water sprouts are vertical shoots that grow from the branches, and suckers are shoots that grow from the base of the tree. Removing these helps direct the tree’s energy to the fruiting branches, promoting better fruit production

4. Shape Evergreen Shrubs and Hedges

Trim Overgrown Hedges and Shape Evergreen Shrubs

Winter is a good time to trim overgrown hedges and shape evergreen shrubs. This helps maintain their form and prevents them from becoming too leggy or sparse.

5. Sanitise Your Tools

To prevent the spread of disease, always sanitise your pruning tools before and after use. A solution of one part bleach to nine parts water works well.

6. Make Clean Cuts

When making cuts, try to cut just above a bud that faces outward. This encourages the new growth to develop away from the centre of the plant, promoting a more open and healthy structure.

7. Avoid Over-Pruning

While pruning is beneficial, it’s important not to remove too much at once. Over-pruning can stress the plant and reduce its ability to produce flowers or fruit in the spring.

Choosing the right pruning tool

Selecting the appropriate pruning tool is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of your plants. From hedge shears for trimming hedges to lopping shears for cutting thick branches, and secateurs for small branch pruning, Lasher tools are designed to meet all your specific gardening needs.

1. Hedge Shear (Product code FG02134)

  • Blade length: 165mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, UV stabilised recyclable grips, highest quality carbon steel, high-performance cutting edge
  • Use: General hedge pruning

2. Deluxe Hedge Shear (Product code FG02135)

  • Blade length: 180mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, UV stabilised recyclable grips, highest quality carbon steel, high-performance cutting edge, notch for pruning small branches
  • Use: Deluxe hedge pruning with additional branch pruning capability

3. Kudu Hedge Shear (Product code FG02145)

  • Blade length: 180mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, UV stabilised recyclable grips, highest quality carbon steel, high-performance cutting edge, notch for pruning small branches, ergonomic design, adjustable tension, shock absorbing bumper
  • Use: Ergonomic and versatile hedge pruning with branch pruning capability

4. Deluxe Lopping Shear (Product code FG02125)

  • Handle reach: 420mm
  • Cutting Diameter: 25mm
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, handles with PVC grips
  • Use: Pruning thicker branches, up to 25mm in diameter

5. Heavy Duty Lopping Shear (Product code FG02127)

  • Handle reach: 550mm
  • Cutting Diameter: 50mm
  • Features: Chrome vanadium steel jaws, multi-pivot to improve power transfer, highest quality carbon steel, handles with PVC grips
  • Use: Heavy-duty pruning for very thick branches, up to 50mm in diameter

6. Medium Duty Bypass Secateurs (Product code FG02139)

  • Cutting Diameter: 18mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, one-handed safety lock, ergonomic design, comfortable grip
  • Use: Medium duty pruning for smaller branches, up to 18mm in diameter

7. Professional Secateurs (Product code FG02142)

  • Cutting Diameter: 20mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, one-handed safety lock, ergonomic design, comfortable grip
  • Use: Professional grade pruning for small branches, up to 20mm in diameter

8. Cut and Hold Secateurs (Product code FG02128)

  • Cutting Diameter: 16mm
  • Features: Hardened & tempered blades, one-handed safety lock, ergonomic design, comfortable grip
  • Use: Pruning with cut-and-hold feature for small branches, up to 16mm in diameter; designed for harvesting flowers like roses as hold feature stops the flower from falling on the ground and getting damaged.

9. Pruning Saw No. 333F (Product code FG01860)

  • Blade: Curved
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating, extension facility
  • Use: Pruning larger branches with curved blade for better control

10. Pruning Saw No. 333 (Product code FG01850)

  • Blade: Curved
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating
  • Use: Pruning larger branches

11. Pruning Saw No. 333 Pistol Handle (Product code FG01849)

  • Blade: Curved
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating, pistol handle for improved grip
  • Use: Pruning larger branches with better handling

12. Prunemaster (Product code FG01870)

  • Blade: Straight
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating
  • Use: General pruning of branches with a straight blade

13. Prunemaster Pistol Handle (Product code FG01868)

  • Blade: Straight
  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating, pistol handle for improved grip
  • Use: General pruning of branches with a straight blade and better handling

14. Double Edged Pruning Saw No. 334 (Product code FG01885)

  • Features: Highest quality carbon steel, epoxy powder coating
  • Use: Heavy-duty pruning with double-edged saw for versatile cuts

15. Household Pruning Bowsaw No. 50 (Product code FG01330)

  • Features: Durable polypropylene handle, highest quality carbon steel, extension facility
  • Use: Household pruning tasks with a durable handle and extendable reach.

Pick a tool that suits the task at hand to achieve the best results and prolong the life of your plants.

Happy pruning!

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For more than 90 years, Lasher Tools has been the leading manufacturer of high quality hand tools in Africa.

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