Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pruning, Pruning

Now, I'll grant you that "Pruning, Pruning" does not have the same musical quality as "Wassail, Wassail" or "Caroling, Caroling," which is probably why the phrase hasn't been set to music...yet. But pruning is a noble and necessary undertaking and one in which I have been engaged for the past couple of days.

 We decided to have the siding replaced on our 43-year-old house and that meant I needed to cut back the giant holly trees and the overgrown pyracantha that hadn't been pruned for about five years. Now, I'm not much on horticulture, but I do know how to prune. I used to help an elderly neighbor with her rose garden and she taught me how to prune roses. My mother came over to my house once a year for the express purpose of telling me what needed to be cut back and how, and somehow the lesson stuck. It's a miracle. I learned, for example, that pyracantha needed to be pruned severely each year. Mine was flopped over its restraining cable. So, I cut it back. Here's what it looks like now:

The three sticks in the middle of the picture are the pyracantha. It will grow out by next year. I promise.

 Then I worked on two hollies yesterday. Here is a picture of one of four hollies "before":

Pretty shaggy, huh? Well, no more. Here's an "after" picture (the mostly pruned bush is the rightmost of the two):

There's a difference. The interior is cleaned up and the bush has more of a symmetric shape. I use some basic principles of pruning, such as cut any branches that cross so they don't cross any more, cut branches so they are away from the house and shape up the bush.

If you're interested and don't know anything about pruning, here are some basic tools. I use hand tools because I don't want to cut my arms off.Although I have come close with hand tools.

You'll notice, top to bottom, a pair of heavy duty work gloves for things like thorns and other hazards that come from working with plants, a pair of hand pruners for small cuts, a bow saw for bigger limbs and a pair of long-handled pruners for everything else. I didn't include eye protection since I was wearing it because I would usually get something in my eye during the proceedings. Actually, I could use a hockey mask since the falling branches almost invariably smack me in the face. But my eyes are protected.

Coming up: some more pruning pictures as I get to it.Stay tuned.


  1. Hats off to you! This used to be my job when we had prune-able bushes, and I always hated it. Particularly the cleanup!

  2. Mary Mac: I hate the cleanup, too. I try to discipline myself to put the bigger limbs and twigs into a trash can for yard waste pickup on Mondays but the small stuff I leave lyingon the ground with the futile hope that it will pick itself up and walk away. Never seems to happen. I suppose eventually it would return to the soil but that takes a long, long time. So, in a couple of weeks or months I'll go out with a rake and pick it up. Takes about 5 minutes, which always makes me wonder why I procrastinate on this minor task.