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Prepare to Prune

Finally it would seem our frigid temperatures have broke…  PLEASE Mother Nature!  Now that it’s not SO cold that we can’t get outside but cold enough to prune our trees and shrubs without damage, it’s time to Prepare to Prune!

Keep in mind, DON’T prune spring flowering shrubs until AFTER they’ve flowered or if you’re just removing dead wood.



This is also a good time to really look over your plants for any pests.

To prepare your tools you’ll need steel wool, a sharpening stone or file and some machine oil.  Use the steel wool to clean up rust spots and the stone or file to smooth out any dings, dents or chips.  Use the machine oil on pivot points.

The best thing you can do is sharpen your pruners!  Good for you and good for the plant…

Taking your pruners apart is a great way to sharpen your tools, however, not everyone wants to do that.  So here’s a way to sharpen without taking them apart.

  • Use steel wool to remove any rust, resin, sap
  • For the anvil pruner, wrap a rag around the cutting blade, using a little oil use a file to smooth out any rough edges on the flat anvil blade.
  • For the cutting blade, hold the pruners away from your body, parallel to the ground, move the file across the blade in one direction away from your body and repeat.
  • Make an occasional pass on the back side to remove any tags
  • Use the same process for the bypass pruners
  • Add a little machine oil to the pivot point of your pruners

If your pruners are not cutting smoothly you’ll get splintered, crushed or torn cuts which allow an acces point for insects and disease.

When pruning shrubs, come out about 1/4 of an inch from the stem and cut at the same angle as the branch your cutting.  For larger branches come out about 1/2 inch.  Allow the plant to “heal” itself.  There’s no need for wound dressing.

pruning diagram

Here’s an article from the Minnesota DNR about Winter Pruning

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