Robin Haglund, a Seattle based garden designer and garden writer for Fiskars, recently shared some helpful pruning tips on our latest Nest In Style podcast episode. Click to listen! Since we ran short on time and space, we decided to give Robin her own page. Listen to Robin tell me about her favorite Fiskars tools she uses on the job, as well as in her own garden.
Interested in winning some of Robin’s favorite tools? Click on the Nest In Style Fall Giveaway page to learn how to enter and win!
Robin’s Top 5 Pruning Tips
- Right Plant: Right Place: Make sure you select a plant that is going to fit into the space where you plant it. Don’t pick something that you know is going to get too tall or wide for your location and think hacking it into shape is a good idea. You wouldn’t cut off your kids head if he grew too tall for his bed would you?
- Right tool for the job: Be sure to use the right tool for the job. It’ll keep you safe and keep the plant healthy. Make sure those tools are sharp, clean and sterile. Clean cuts with sharp tools will help the plant do a good job building the systems it uses to protect its healthy parts from the results of your cutting. Sterilizing your tools will help ensure you don’t pass disease from one plant (or part of a plant) to another. Plants don’t have immune systems and don’t need us playing vector to their diseases.
- Minimize Fall Pruning: Fall is when plants slow in growth, harden off and prepare themselves for winters ahead. When we cut woody plants, we run the risk of stimulating new growth. If we initialize a lot of fresh, tender growth during a time when growth should be hardening for winter, we run the risk of damaging that new growth (and thereby the entire plant) in a freeze. And, many plants that bloom in winter and spring have already set up their flower buds. If you prune them in fall, odds are you’ll cut off most of the flowering buds. As well, if we do a lot of pruning in fall, we may have to look at our cut up plant until Spring, when plants naturally resurge growth. So, why not just hold off on big pruning jobs until late winter? Deciduous trees will be showing off their structure on bare wood. Plus, new growth is just around the corner from winter!
- When you do Prune: Avoid shearing. Plants don’t naturally occur in squares, triangles and circles, so why cut them that way? Instead, thin out dead, crossing, rubbing, broken and suckering branches first. Generally, remove no more than 1/3 of living material from a woody plant in any one growing season. And, remove entire branches to where they join with another branch rather than randomly cutting on a stem to “shape” the shrub. Random cutting isn’t healthy for the plant, and it can end up causing more growth you’ll have to deal with shortly.
- If unsure or uncomfortable pruning: Garden Mentors® and other garden consulting businesses exist to help you get over the hump with your gardening projects. We help by empowering you to do the work yourself or to help you understand who to hire for those jobs you’re not quite comfortable doing on your own. Have a big tree that needs work? Look for a certified arborist to come to the rescue. Always, be safe. I may love my flame weeder, but I won’t go near a chainsaw.
Fiskars Community Garden in Portland, Oregon
From left: Robin Haglund, Joe Lamp’l, Jayme Jenkins
What are some of your favorite tools to use in the garden? Is there a gadget you wished you never wasted your money on?