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Proper pruning is essential to maintaining the health and appearance of shrubs, hedges and trees. Regular pruning will help renew a plant’s strength, make it more resistant to damage and help control size and balance so the plant fits into your landscape design.
The best time to prune is generally during the plant's dormant period, usually late winter. However, some situations require more specific timing:
Be careful not to make cuts too close or too far away from a bud. Using bypass blades, position the lower hooked blade to the discarded side of the branch so as not to damage the bark of the remaining branch. Cutting at an angle of approximately 45 degrees will help promote healthy growth.
To deadhead flowers, simply snip off any spent blossoms with a small hand pruner. This sends the plant into overdrive, putting more energy into creating new flowers and root development.
When pruning shrubs and other ornamentals, first cut away dead or damaged branches. Next, prune selectively to refine the shrub’s shape, careful to make only healthy cuts. Never cut more than 30% of the shrubs overall live growth.
In spring, cut back plants within 4"–6" of the ground just before or as soon as new growth appears. Grasses that remain green year-round normally don’t need to be cut back except to remove old, dead foliage.
When pruning hedges, taper the sides so that the bottom is wider than the top. This will preserve lower leaves and stems that will die without adequate light. Additionally, be sure to never cut more than 30% of the shrubs overall.
To prevent peeling bark when cutting back large tree limbs, make the first cut from below. Next, cut the limb several inches beyond the first cut from above. Gravity will cause the limb to fall. Cut the remaining limb at an angle so the bark collar remains intact.
To sharpen safely and efficiently, run a steel diamond file up and down the blade in a zigzag motion.
Stay at a 15-degree angle on the blade, careful to not sharpen at too steep an angle as this could damage the edge of the blade.
Be sure to test blades repeatedly throughout the sharpening process to prevent over-sharpening.
Stay to the edge of the blade when sharpening blades with low-friction or titanium coating to minimize the loss of coating.
Add a drop of maintenance oil to the pivot point, gears or spring of pruners, loppers and shears.
Open and close the blades of your tool several times to distribute the oil. If the blades open and close easily and smoothly, your garden tool has been properly oiled.
If opening and closing the blades of the garden tool feels jarring or requires undue effort, add another drop of maintenance oil to the pivot point, gears or spring.
Add only one drop of oil at a time to the pivot point, gears or spring of your garden tool to prevent over-oiling.
Most simple hand tools like trowels and cultivators can be cleaned with a solution of warm water and mild soap applied with a gentle brush.
For pruners, loppers and shears that accumulate sap and other sticky substances on their blades, apply a light alcohol solution with a soft cloth.
When cutting diseased plants with pruners, loppers and shears, be sure to wipe the blades with a light bleach-andwater solution between cuttings and let dry completely to prevent the spread of diseases between plants.
Soaking can cause rust that will diminish the strength and sharpness of garden tools.
Whether cleaning tools with warm water and soap, light alcohol solution or bleach and water, be sure to dry garden tools quickly after cleaning to prevent rust.
Long-handled tree pruners provide extended reach to cut high branches up to 5 cm (2") in diameter. Many also include a saw blade to take down thicker branches.
Compact hand pruners are ideal for making quick snips on stems and branches up to 2.5 cm (1") in diameter.
Hedge shears feature long blades that cut all the way to the tip and a two-handle design ideal for sculpting hedges or ornamental bushes.
Loppers feature a two-handle design and a longer reach that make it easy to power through thick branches up to 5 cm (2") in diameter.
Use saws to cut down large branches over 5 cm (2") in diameter.
Ideal for safely cutting green, living growth like flowers, ornamental shrubs, hedges and tree branches.
Ideal for pruning dry dead growth, stripping small logs or cutting back branches that died over the winter.
Always be careful when sharpening tools. Wear thick leather gloves to protect your fingers from sharp edges, and wear protective goggles to protect your eyes from metal filings.
If you do not feel comfortable sharpening your own tools, ask your local gardening center to recommend a professional sharpening service, or call Fiskars’ warranty service line at 1-800-500-4849 for more information. Fiskars does not provide sharpening service.