Pruning is part of horticultural practices of keeping gardens and plants healthy, looking great and fruitful. Anyone with a garden or plants can do pruning and all you need are a few pruning tools.
Pruning bushes with tool

What is pruning?

Pruning, also known as abscission, involves trimming or cutting off branches, leaves, shrubs, hedges or vines to the desired shape to either provide clearance, make it visually appealing or extend the lifespan of the plants. Pruning is a horticultural, arboricultural and silvicultural practice that ends the life of plants, keeps plants disease free and looking beautiful.

Why do pruning?

Pruning helps gardens look beautiful, increase fruit size and extend plant life. Plants growing in the garden will need to get prune so it can look beautiful and grow healthy. In the wilderness, trees and bushes tend to grow freely. They can spread, stretch and take whatever shape they want. In a forest habitat, this is a beautiful sight. At the same time, in a jungle or a forest habitat, where nature is queen, nature is also maintenance-free. It strikes its balance and is self-maintaining. In our backyards and on our streets, this uncontrollable jungle of vegetation wouldn’t look so visually appealing and gardens won’t be able to maintain itself. This is where pruning is useful to create beautiful and healthy gardens in our habitat.

What is self-pruning?

Self-pruning is an occurrence in trees that have a natural mechanism to shed diseased or shaded branches. The tree “decides” on its own which branches no longer serve a purpose and no longer contribute to a healthy existence and growth. Usually, weaklings located low on the trunk that do not receive enough sunlight during the day are ‘sacrificed’ by the tree to extend its lifespan. This phenomenon is quite rare, and it happens in open-growth trees mostly.
Man pruning with garden tool

Types of pruning

There are a few types of pruning, such as thinning, topping, raising, reduction and deadheading, with the first two being the most popular types of cuts. Thinning – such cuts are pretty drastic, and they involve cutting off entire limbs, shoots or branches from their origin to revitalize the plant and ensure regrowth. Topping – such cuts are even more severe, and they involve cutting off all branches and growths, leaving only a few larger ones to promote new growth and create structures of climbing plants. Raising – such cuts are represented by trimmings of lower limbs to provide clearance for pedestrians, buildings, vehicles and vistas. Reduction – such cuts are represented by reductions of spread and height of a tree, usually for clearance for utility lines. These cuts help preserve the structural integrity of the tree. Deadheading – such cuts involve the removal of spent flowers and flower heads to improve aesthetics.


In horticultural crops, there are different methods of pruning such as plant training, de-suckering, handling, collar pruning, back pruning, root pruning, and more. All pruning acts are oriented towards such goals as increasing fruit size, stimulating growth and increasing nitrogen per growing point.

Tools for pruning

The act of pruning or abscission is done using a number of tools such as –
  • Secateurs
  • Pruning saw
  • Hand & topiary shears
  • Loppers
  • Long-reach pruner


Although small acts of pruning such as removal of small dead branches can be done at any year, more serious pruning to maintain a healthy and beautiful garden is essential to be done at the right time. Pruning too early may keep your flowering shrubs from blooming this year. Pruning too late could destroy the buds for the next year. It is recommended to prune your spring-flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants immediately after blooming and soon after the blossoms fade. Such rejuvenation cuts are necessary to restore vitality and prepare the plant for the next flowering season. Pruning too late in winter may result in no flower display for over 2 or 3 years.

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