If you are a gardener who struggles with pruning, improve your chances for success by using the right tools.Contra Costa Master Gardener Mike Colby explained pruning tools and how to take care of them. Here are some of his tips:
- When pruning branches from trees, take care not to cut flush against the trunk or limb, removing the collar. The collar is essential in forming growth over the cut and sealing off the wound.
- Pruners are generally bypass or anvil type. The anvil pruner is more stable, but it also can crush the plant. Bypass pruners are less stable, but give a clean cut. Use an anvil pruner to cut dead wood or for removing material up to the point of the desired cut; finish off the cut with the bypass pruners.
- Pay attention to how you are holding your pruners. With bypass pruners, face the hooked side of the blade away from the plant so that if there is any crushing damage caused by the hook, it will be on the side of the plant that is being removed.
- When using a saw to prune, make sure it’s a pruning saw. Carpenter saws require the user to push the blade to make the cut, which can be difficult to do on a wobbly branch. The pruning saw works with a pulling motion.
- Avoid using pole saws. Sawing limbs on trees is a risky job no matter how many precautions you take, but using these saws attached to long poles increases the danger. Adding a ladder into the mix makes it even more of a risk. If you can’t reach it from the ground, Colby says, consider calling in a professional.
- Sharpen your pruners with a carbide sharpening tool instead of a file. The carbide blade is stronger; files can actually dull your blades. Match the angle of the sharpener to that of the blade and push away from you. Four or five strokes will do it.
- For larger pruning jobs, use loppers. They come in both anvil and bypass style, but there also are ratchet loppers that make getting through thicker branches easier, and long-handled ones for reaching high into trees.
- For cutting long limbs, make a partial cut below the spot you want to cut. Cut from under the branch to about halfway through. Make a second cut further down on the limb, cutting on top of the limb. Inevitably the weight of the branch will cause the limb to break at the second cut as you are sawing, but you avoid the risk of the bark peeling up or splintering as the first cut will keep the damage from going higher. Lastly, prune the limb where you want to. The now shortened limb won’t have the added weight and should prune off cleanly.
- Always wear gloves and protective eye wear that also protects from the sides.
- Clean your tools with bleach or alcohol, and oil them after use.
Here are some favorite tools of Master Gardeners that you might also find helpful.
- Holsters that clip onto your belt or have belt loops. These keep your tools close at hand and reduce the chances of losing them.
- Hori hori knife. This tool looks something like a short bayonet, but it is far more versatile. You can use it like a trowel, it has a measurements on the blade, and one side is serrated for easily cutting roots.
- Folding pruning saws. These saws that look like over-grown pocket knives are a bit more safe, keeping the blade covered until you’re ready to use them. They are easily carried in a holster.
- Tall pruners make it easier to reach higher limbs while keeping your feet on the ground.
- Fruit pickers also make harvesting fruit from taller trees easier.
- Hand-held hulu hoe doesn’t cut weeds, but instead is designed to pull them by the roots.
- Broad fork. These large, pronged forks make prepping a bed for planting much easier. The tool is expensive, but worth it.
- Soil moisture probe. This is another expensive tool, but it will help you tell how far down your water is reaching.
Next time at Our Garden, put those tools to good use by learning how to do summer pruning of fruit trees. Classes at Our Garden are free, and are at 10 a.m. every Wednesday through October. The garden is at Shadelands Drive and Wiget Lane in Walnut Creek.
Published at Thu, 13 Jul 2017 21:00:55 +0000