Pruning your woody plants, trees, and shrubs is essential for continued vigorous growth. When pruning, follow these basic guidelines of looking for your three D’s.

  • Dead branches
  • Damaged branches
  • Diseased branches

Dead branches are those that will not grow back. Be careful not to cut dormant branches in the winter. Damaged branches can be damaged in a variety of ways, such as damage from a collision with a lawn mower string, or if a stem has been bent too far causing permanent crushing and creasing of the wood. These are areas when you would want to prune and remove the branch as it may cause safety concerns in the future. Diseased branches come in many forms and can be caused by insects, bacteria, fungi. Dead and damaged wood can be composted or put out as yard waste. Diseased wood must be put out as trash or burned to avoid spreading the disease.

To prune a branch, use a pair of hand shears (if the branches are small), a pair of two-handed shears for medium sized branches, and a saw for larger sized branches. Remember your 3 D’s when pruning your bushes and tress. After that, you can continue pruning for additional reasons, such as to improve air circulation, to shape the plant, and manage its growth. Ensure your tools are sharp so that if you are working with diseased material, you minimize the chance of spreading it through your tools.

Cover Image by NatalieMaynor, used under its Creative Commons license.

[Got a Tip?] If you have a tip to share with your fellow urban farmers, let us know at Want More Tips? Browse our Tips Archive for more.