A lot of people think that pruning is a major job that needs to be completed in the winter months. This is not the full story and many shrubs and other plants need pruning at different times of the year depending on when they flower or fruit.
This has been such a funny year and all sorts of plants are flowering when they shouldn’t be and others flowering later than they should.
However there are still a lot of summer flowering shrubs such as Spiraea bumalda, Leycesteria, Caryopteris, Pervoskia and of course all those late flowerers for this season Philadelphus, Weigelia and Deutzia, that should be pruned immediately they have finished flowering. Now is the time to get on with them to ensure they develop well into the autumn ready for next year.
Once you have carried out any summer pruning remember to give your plants and shrubs a good fertilizer application. I prefer to use rose fertilizer at this time of the year, as it is ideally suited to promoting the right type of growth to help the plant grow well into the autumn without putting on too much soft sappy growth. Remember to water it in if it does not rain within a week of application.
I find it interesting that people will use poor quality tools when pruning. This makes the job so much harder and can result in not only injuring yourself but also the plant.
Remember you are, in practice, making a cut and in the same way a surgeon will ensure that all cuts are clean and tidy so should the gardener, in an attempt to prevent any unnecessary damage to the surrounding stem tissue.
I believe you should buy the best quality pruning tools that you can afford. Secateurs with a scissor action are far better than those that operate by cutting against an anvil. The scissor action does not crush the stem whereas the anvil types can.
If you can afford the best go for a pair of Felco. These are the choice of all professionals and have the advantage that every part can be replaced, and they are guaranteed for life. Painted red they are also easy to see if you put them down.
I always use a holster for carrying my secateurs as this is far safer than having them in my pocket and facing the risk of pushing them into myself when bending down, or creating a hole in my pocket. Types of holster are available that either fit to your belt or can be clipped onto your belt or pocket.
If you are working in a tight space a good quality pruning saw is fantastic and really makes light work of summer pruning when it’s necessary to remove thicker wood than you can do easily with a pair of secatuers. A small bow saw can be used but, where space is restricted, I find it easier to use a small folding-handle type pruning saw.
In years gone by I have struggled with a hedge trimmer that was powered either by electricity or petrol, and I was always thinking about keeping the electricity cable over my shoulder and out of the way of the blade, or where I should keep the petrol can and if I had the right fuel for it anyway.
I then borrowed a friend’s battery powered machine a couple of years ago and not only did I find it lighter than my previous trimmer, but so much easier to use, especially as I was having to cut my hedge from a pair of step ladders. I no longer have to worry about the cable all the time.
If you are like me, and you have something that seems ok for the job in hand, you are probably very reluctant to splash out money on something else that you do not really think you need. Well, on this occasion, I would advise throwing your old hedge trimmer away and treating yourself to something that will make the job easier, lighter, safer and quicker in the long term.
The newer battery powered hedge trimmers are very reasonably priced and, if you get the type that comes with two batteries, one can be charging while the other one is in use.
I am so pleased that treated myself to a new battery type of trimmer as it has made hedge trimming at this time of the year so much more enjoyable and easier than in the past. It also means that I now get on with the job instead of keep leaving it thinking that it’s going to kill me! The hedge gets cut when it should and that means better and healthier growth.