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Nothing to fear from tree pruning

Elaeagnus for garland
Elaeagnus for garland

Tree and shrub pruning is relatively straight forward, yet it is occasionally approached with fear of doing unrepairable damage.

Start with the premise that these plants are hardy perennials and your pruning is not going to kill them. The worst that can happen is create an eyesore for a season or cause a delay in flowering.

As a general guide deciduous trees and shrubs that bloom before late May should be pruned immediately after flowering. Any that bloom from June should be pruned between now and March. Broad-leaved evergreens are pruned in May, cherries in late summer and conifers autumn.

Winter is the time to tackle apples and pears, but avoid pruning plums and cherries now because there’s a risk of disease spores entering the cuts.

Clematis often cause confusion because their pruning times are separated into groups.

It’s simpler to follow the adage: “Those that flower in May and June, you should hardly ever prune. Those that flower all summer through, prune them hard, that’s what you do – just before spring.”