how many of you prune

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by touhey33, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. touhey33

    touhey33 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Just wanted to know how many of you prune, and how you learned or if you learned how to prune. I know it is no as simple as cutting back the plant, you have to learn about all different kinds of plants and trees, and the correct way to prune them.
  2. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    Pruning some plants is a very intricate procedure. Roses for example

    Most shrubs and hedges just need to be maintained and cut with a sharp instrument.

    Bottom line is get a few books and find out the types of plants that are sensitive and stay away from them until you know what you are doing. But most hedges aren't likely to be hurt, more likely that you will cut slopes or odd shapes that make them look wierd.
  3. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Correct, you need to get a good book and know what plant you are pruning. In the event you don't know...take sample of it to your nursery and have them identify it. Then either ask them or look it up yourself.
  4. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    There are some very good books out there that will tell you how and when to prune specific plants. General pruning techniques can be found quite easily, but you're right, you need to know the type of pruning each plant wants, and when to prune as well. For example, many shrubs can be pruned back all the way down to the ground in late fall, others you selectively thin out, some you can shear, and yet others you "head back". Its best to know what you're doing before you start cutting away at something.

    Check with your local extension service for the basic info on pruning. When I worked with them they had some good info on pruning.

    The Sunset Western Garden Book is almost the bible for plant info. It isn't specifically a pruning book but does tell you how to prune different plants, and does have a section on pruning techniques. This would be a great book to have.
  5. Evergreenpros

    Evergreenpros LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,154

    Fortuneately, most people who have complete service that includes spring pruning don't know much about it. That's where we come in!! There's some basic rules to pruning.

    1. When in doubt make it round.
    2. If it looks dead and feels dead, it's probably dead so cut it.
    3. Generally, branches growing up = Good, branches growning down = Bad
    4. If you see a joint or some knob cut above it.
    5. If you think you should take off 1 foot of growth but aren't sure, take off 6" and call it good. see #1
    6. Don't use any cutting device with an engine, motor, or any other type of power assist unless you REALLY know what you're doing.
    7. When you're done, always ask the customer "how's it look? I can take your "blah blah" down a bit more if you like. If they say yes they won't blame you if it dies, if they say no then it's a done deal. Make sure you know at least a couple plant names to make the conversation flow.

    Most pruning is a no brainer. It's usually grossly obvious what is recent growth and what isn't. Books are great and they are a tool but you just have to take the plunge and get started. Most customers are just looking for that "maintained" appearance. If you get a customer who knows the genus and species of every plant in the yard along with the price they paid, I'd pass on that job.
  6. mcclureandson

    mcclureandson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 242

    Pruning is like anything else in this looks simple so it must be so, right? Get a book, or better yet get four or five and focus on the plants most commonly seen in your area/zone. Improper pruning can destroy a plant. Proper pruning encourages new growth (in desired direction/mass), improves appearance, minimizes insect damage, fungus infestations and much, much more...Nearly every house on my maintenance schedule has half a dozen different types of shrubs, some need cutting back in the fall, others a light snip in the spring and so on...pruning hap-hazardly is always a mistake.
  7. specialtylc

    specialtylc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    I was raised on an orchard so I already knew how to prune trees when I started in grounds maintenance. As for shrubs and bushes it has been a on the job training , learn as I went.
  8. newbomb

    newbomb LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 391

    The best book I have found I got at Home depot. It is Ortho books " All about Pruning". It is a 100 or so, page soft cover book that explains literally all about pruning. Any good hardware or home center should have it and it really covers everything. It is A great place to start. It is put out by Chevron Chemical Co the ISBN number is 0-89721-198-7 if you have to get it from Barnes and Noble or the like. Get this one first it tells whe n to prune, how to prune and Identifies a lot of plants. Learn this one and your gold.
  9. afford a bill

    afford a bill LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I would say "specialtylc" will concur, pruning of fruit trees is different then shade trees. if you do not know how to prune them leave them alone... or go to your local extension office and get a pruning guide..
    I too had a commercial Orchard but do not spray trees for others!
  10. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Think of a plumber or electrician saying "golly, I really don't know what do for sure so I'll just do what I think is right..and then I'll ask my customer if he thinks it right and if you both agree it must be right"? Then when the lights don't work right and the pipes leak, guess who the customer blames? Of course, the "pro" even though the customer "approved" the work. I think we should know the right way to do anything we hire out to do or sub someone in who does and work with them to learn how they do it. If you learn the right way to prune through study and hands-on experience with a certified arborist you will know the basic principles and do good work. ISA has good study materials on their website, Cass Turnbull in Seattle has a good website on malpruning at, very informative and, unfortunately, way too true. Neal

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