Good gardeners know that keeping a shrub healthy and continuously beautiful, it needs to be pruned. The process is necessary to remove diseased and/or dead limbs or stems. Smaller branches can be cut with flower shears. However, the larger branches or woody stems need to be snapped with large pruning shears or loppers.
If you have ever pruned a shrub, then you know that it is hard work. It requires repetitive motion of your strong hand. So it is imperative that you select the right tool for the job. The selection of the proper pruning tool should be based on what kind of pruning you will do, the type of pruning tools available, whether you plan to prune in the summer or fall and what plant materials are to be pruned.
Pruning branches that are larger than the ones a flower shear can handle can be performed with hand pruning shears. However, the cutting of thick tree limbs and branches should be done with a lopper or saw.
There are three different types of pruning utensils –- anvil, ratchet, and bypass.
The anvil pruner includes a single straight blade that uses a splitting action to cut a stem or branch. It is ideal for cutting dry branches and stems.
The ratchet pruner features a mechanism that gets the shear to cut in stages. This pruner is ideal for users who have limited strength.
The bypass pruner operates like a scissor and is the most popular shear. This utensil has two curved blades and will perform a nice, clean cut. It is ideal for cutting actively growing stems.
Here is a more definitive explanation of the various pruning tools available and how to use them.
· Anvil Pruner. This tool should be used to cut dead twigs and branches ranging in 5/8-inch in diameter or less. Species of bush that can be sheared with this tool include rose and hydrangea bushes.
· Bypass Pruner. This tool is ideal for live stems and branches that are about 5/8-inch or less in diameter and is perfect for handling rose and raspberry bushes.
· Hedge Shears. This utensil should be used on hedges, small shrubs, and evergreens. It can handle branches that are in the range of 2-1/4-inches or less in diameter.
· Lopper. This tool should be used on medium-large branches that range 2-1/2-inch or less in diameter. It is ideal for fruit and nut trees.
· Pole Pruner. Designed to cut dead wood on trees, this shear is capable of cutting a branch that is 2-1/2-inches or less and can be used on any tree.
· Tree Pruner. This tool should be used to cut smaller tree branches that are in the range of 1-1/4-inches or less. It can be used on any tree.
Since they are cutting devices, it is most important to use them safely. It is advised that gardeners who intend to do their own pruning should take a training course in the proper method. Pruning injuries can be avoided if you keep these precautions in mind.
· Select the right pruner for the job.
· Keep the pruners in good working condition and the blades sharp.
· Dress for the job. Wear protective eyewear, long-sleeve shirt, and long pants to avoid cuts. If you intend to prune trees, then wear a hard hat and steel-toed shoes to protect against falling limbs and debris.
· If you intend to use a pruner to cut branches that are some distance off the ground, then it is recommended that you get trained in using a ladder safely.
· If you use a pole pruner, make certain that it does not contact power or utility lines.
· Use proper posture when using a pruning shear.
· Don’t reach out too far during the pruning process to prevent muscle pulls and/or falls.
· Don’t prune after drinking alcohol or taking medications.
It is also important to properly maintain your pruning tools. If the blade is dull or sticky, the tool may slip off a branch and cut you. After use, wipe the blade clean with a dry cloth and lubricate the moving parts and spring. Sharpen blades if you have to provide extra strength to cut a branch. Adjust the blade and replace worn out parts when the cut is not clean.