Remove the Diseased. Usually done with handheld pruners, heading stimulates the buds just below the cut, encouraging dense growth. Angle it at about 45 degrees, with the lowest point of the cut opposite the bud and even with it — the highest point about 1/4 inch above the bud. Use handheld or electric hedge shears for this kind of pruning. Use a sharp pruning saw and make these three cuts as described below: About a foot from the branch collar, make a cut from the underside approximately a third of the way through. Has the tree been pruned recently? Make the final cut by placing the saw beside the branch bark ridge and cutting downward just outside the branch collar. If you see branches which are already dead or are in the process of dying, you should... 2. Shearing stimulates many buds to produce new growth; you'll be repeating the job regularly after you start. Some of the most badly botched pruning you'll see is on conifers that have been pruned too severely — usually to keep them confined to a location that's too small — although a few conifers, including arborvitae, yew and hemlock, lend themselves to shearing into hedges. Scissor-type shears make tight, close cuts on plants. You'll need to learn to recognize three different kinds of growth buds to get the effect you want. In warmer winter areas, timing will vary depending on the particular plant's native climate. For flowering trees and shrubs, you'll need to know whether the flowers are produced on old or new growth. If you do, an early frost may damage the plant at the point of the cuts. A well-maintained tree or shrub is healthier and looks better — two very good reasons to learn how to prune correctly. This principle is important to keep in mind when you train young trees to develop a strong branching structure. Pinching is one of the easiest ways to prune without cutting: You simply pinch off a terminal bud with your thumb and forefinger. Prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs in winter or early spring, before new growth emerges. Plants such as cinquefoil, which bear flowers on leafy new growth formed in spring, can safely be pruned while dormant. And because growth is slower at this time of year, pruning is less likely to stimulate new growth — an advantage when you're thinning. Remove Undesirable Growth: Prune out unwanted growth periodically. Pole pruners feature a pruning shear head or saw that works via rope action. Cut out wayward branches, take out thin growth, remove suckers (stems growing up from the roots) and water sprouts (upright shoots growing from the trunk and branches). When removing heavy branches, avoid ripping the bark by shortening the branch to a stub before cutting it off at the branch collar. This group includes broadleaf evergreens (such as boxwood and camellia) and conifers (such as spruce and pine). Are you trying to shape a tree for shade or height? Shrubs. (A common mistake of inexperienced gardeners is to make a heading cut when a thinning cut is needed.) Contact a professional arborist to address these issues or if you're unsure about the tree’s overall health: Hand Shears: Use for branches up to 1/4 inch in diameter. Remove What is Dead or Dying. How to Prune Shrubs and Trees 1. (If the branch angle is very narrow, cut upward from the bottom to avoid cutting into the branch collar.). Because this method cuts right through leaves, it's best done on small-leaved plants, where damage is less noticeable. As the plant grows, train it by cutting off or digging up parts that become unruly. Although evergreen trees and shrubs don't drop their leaves, they approach a near-dormant state during the winter months. 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