Pruning - An Art

View your garden from a distance. Every garden is a work of natural wonder. Is your garden manicured to near perfection, or is it overgrown and wild? Realize the beauty of its present state. Realize too, that as you view it is changing.

The art of pruning gives you a relationship with nature that defines your garden. Develop the skill with confidence. Gather information, acquire the tools, employ intuition, be creative.

Developing the skill requires confidence. Initially, prune lightly. If you don't obtain a perfect shape, remember, nature provides ample opportunity. Be comfortable in the decision process of pruning. Sometimes it is good to move quickly and freely, at times you may need to think out every deliberate cut.

Knowing the characteristics of your plant is important. Read about them. If you have questions ask a neighbor, local nursery person, or a master gardener at the U.C. Cooperative Extension Office.

Tools are important. Hand pruners, lopping shears, hedge clippers and a pruning saw will take care of most plants. For larger trees you may need a pole pruner/saw and a chain saw. Check over your tools. If they are dull I recommend that you learn the skill of sharpening, or have them sharpened professionally. Fingers work well for cleaning dried leaves and snapping little branches.

Use your intuition. If you need to walk through your garden you would naturally clear a path. Prune so that your garden is comfortable for working and relaxation. Let instinct guide you. Be creative. Plants can be pruned for a natural appearance or shaped to create ground covers, shrubs, hedges, trees, trellises, espaliers and topiaries. Experiment and see what nature can do.

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