Using Pruning Tools in the Garden

I prune my bushes every two weeks or so during the autumn (every week during the warm seasons), and late yesterday afternoon was just one such occasion.  I have used an electrical hedge trimmer, but often find it unwieldy. Nowadays, I tend to use garden shears. It takes longer, it’s true, but I enjoy the results.

A healthy shrub easily withstands shearing. If a shrub grows too tall, you can simply cut it down to the desired height. Initially, you may be concerned (as I was when I first started years ago) that once you cut down a tall shrub to a shorter height, that the cut top will forever be bare branches. Not so.  Given time, the branches will fill up with new leaf growth and, before you know it, the top will be just a leafy as other parts of the shrub.

Check out the view of the backside of one of the shrubs I pruned yesterday. New leaves are growing in – the other bare branches will fill in with leaves eventually, too.

I have enjoyed the upside trapezoidal shape of this particular shrub, but it would be easy to shear off the left and right sides of the shrub and make it more cube-like in shape.

From my experience, when shearing a shrub of this size, I’ve mostly relied upon garden shears (with the longer blades – think Edward Scissorhands) or hedge trimmer, and occasionally a lopper to remove thicker branches.

Depending on the result that you wish to achieve with your shrubs, you may also need hand pruners (short blades) or pruning saws. This is a very good website on the tools needed for pruning trees and shrubs, including photos of the tools:

Keep in mind that if you prune back the leaves very hard and achieve a tightly clipped shrub, you will be spending more time maintaining that tightly clipped look and on constant watch for new leaf growth. It will look elegant, of course, but time considerations also factor in. More time (and tools) will be needed also if you want to add topiary into the garden.


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