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How to properly use pruning shears and cut plants – How to avoid common mistakes in the garden.

Using pruning shears seems simple, but when you cut your plants, you can cause them harm. Usually, this gardening activity is supposed to contribute to healthier and better looking plants. The problem is that improper pruning can make the plant more susceptible to disease and affect its structure. Here are some practical tips and common mistakes to avoid to get the best possible plant care from pruning shears.

When amateur gardeners mistakenly prune their plants

seasonal plant care by pruning promotes growth

First of all, you should never prune your plants unless there is a purpose behind it. This could be to remove dead wood or to encourage growth, for example. While it may be tempting to cut away more plant parts, actively cutting away healthy parts of a plant will only cause undue stress. Therefore, it’s best to look up pruning instructions specific to your plant variety and make sure you follow them strictly. That way, pruning will only be done at the right time of year and you won’t risk cutting off future buds.

Avoid using pruning shears with dull blades.

the right season for pruning roses in the garden ground with garden shears

If you use your pruning shears on a regular basis, you will notice that the quality of the cut will diminish over time. This is because the cutting blade becomes slightly duller with each pass. In this case, you should take the time to sharpen your pruning shears. In addition, a sharpened blade makes a cleaner cut from which the plant can heal better and faster.

pruning plants and preventing diseases with sharp blades of garden shears

Overall, the well-kept garden tool for cutting speeds up and facilitates the cutting process and, accordingly, gardening. To sharpen pruning shears or loppers, you only need a grindstone or metal file. However, you can also buy specially designed tools for this task. Also remember to tighten the blade when you feel it loosening. This, in turn, will ensure a clean cut.

Choosing the right cutting tool

pruning plants with the appropriate type of pruning tool and preventing poor plant pruning


Since not all pruners are the same, you should use the right kind when cutting your plants. This way, you will prevent damage to both the plant and the shears. Most hand-held garden tools are suitable for smaller jobs. Bypass shears have one blade that goes over another. This gives a clean cut and is best for live stems and branches. Anvil lopping shears, on the other hand, have one blade that meets another in an anvil fashion. This crushes the trunk rather than cutting through it, and is designed for use on dead wood. Some loppers are also equipped with a ratchet. This divides the plant cut into several smaller steps, which takes power out of the cuts but lengthens the process.

avoid incorrect pruning of buds on young trees in the garden as a hobby gardener

Use bypass garden shears when cutting live branches and stems. The motion of these types of shears leaves a clean, smooth cut that heals quickly and prevents disease. Use anvil garden shears to cut dead branches and stems. Anvil garden shears have better leverage for cutting hardwood branches. However, they tend to shred live wood, leaving a rough edge that takes longer to heal.

use appropriate pruning shears and remove dead wood from branches in the garden


Pruning shears are designed to handle trunks and branches with a diameter of about 3 cm. Anything wider will require something more substantial, such as a pair of two-handed lopping shears. If you’re not sure if you’re using the right tool, you should find out what size branch is suitable for cutting. You should also still make sure that the loppers fit your hand size. If you are left-handed, you need to use the appropriate shears.

Clean pruning shears first and then prune the plants.

clean accumulated dirt and plant sap on the blades of the garden shears

Pruning plants with dirty blades is also a common mistake. Many gardeners have themselves to blame. It is all too common to see pruning shears covered in dirt and plant sap. However, the fact is that cleaning the blades of your pruning shears is essential. This should be done not only between cutting sessions, but between each cut. This may sound excessive, but if you don’t do it, the blades can potentially spread disease to your plants as you cut. If you repeat this several times, you will do more damage to your garden.

cleaning and care of garden tools makes gardening easier

To disinfect the blades, all you need to do is wipe them with a cloth soaked in methylated spirits. Hold the cloth in one hand to wipe the blades between each cut. Also remember to do the same before storing the scissors for the next use. You should also remove any resin or dirt that could rust or block the hinge before storing your scissors. The blades can be wiped down with either a little mineral oil or simply by using some WD-40. Your pruning shears will last much longer as a result if you would take the time to do so.

Prevent excessive pruning in the garden

avoid excessive pruning of shrubs in the garden and do not damage the structure of the plant

While some shrubs can be cut back a considerable amount and recover by leaps and bounds, such as when pruning hydrangeas , not all plants can tolerate such pruning. Remember that the plant will need to recover after any pruning you do and will be susceptible to disease during this time. So if you prune too much at once, it can become overly stressed and much more susceptible to weather conditions than necessary.

regular plant care and pruning with protective gloves and sharp garden shears

Some plants and trees may even take years to recover from, if ever. Divide your pruning into several sessions to avoid this and allow the plant to regenerate in between. Also, check the pruning instructions for your plant species. Even then, if it can tolerate a hard pruning, pruning may only be recommended at certain times of the year.

Regular plant care

take a well-deserved break after gardening with pruning shears

While pruning may sound like you’re doing unnecessary damage to your plants, it’s still a very important task. By pruning back the right amount, you’ll encourage better growth and more blooms. By also removing all traces of dead wood, you give the plant better air circulation, which prevents mold growth. Plus, the plant will also look better after pruning, so it’s worth working on it regularly. It’s best to try to remind yourself when your plants need pruning, and don’t put it off. If your time is limited, you can always hire a professional or a friend to step in and help.