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Whether it’s to remove dead or damaged branches, or purely for aesthetic reasons, pruning is key to maintaining a healthy and beautiful garden. It can help provide additional shape and structure to a garden, while also offering more space for planting.

Corrective pruning should be done as soon as you notice dead plant tissue. Removing older stems encourages new growth and decrease the chance of disease spreading throughout the plant. For fruit-bearing and flowering plants, timely pruning can increase the number of shoots bearing flowers or fruit. Pruning to reduce dense growth can also allow light to reach lower leaves.

Pruning should typically be done during the dormant season, which is winter for deciduous plants; but

it depends on when a plant flowers. For plants that bloom before May 1, prune immediately after flowering is over. For plants blooming after May 1, simply prune during the dormant season; unless it’s a hydrangea, in which case you should prune if immediately after flowering. For tips on pruning roses, click on this link http://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/roses/tips-for-pruning-roses/. Fruit trees are best pruned in winter to help shape the free and open up the

center for light. Ornamental evergreens, including hedges, can be pruned late winter or even spring.

Before pruning, it’s best to think carefully about how you want your plant to look. Remove any dead or damaged stems and branches and then prune to improve shape. Keep the task of pruning simple by doing it frequently and not waiting for growth to get too unwieldy or to grow awkwardly.

Be sure not to get too carried away and over prune your plant. The goal of good pruning is to remove only the bad parts of the plant so that the plant appears untouched. Excessive pruning, however, can reduce the foliage needed for making food and may cause the plant to over sprout in response to foliage loss. The plant may even exhaust itself by trying to replenish its leaves, resulting in weak branches. Since time is the only real cure for over pruning, prune cautiously, removing no more than a third of the plant’s canopy at a time.

Pruning at the wrong time is rarely fatal, although it may mean fewer flowers and fruit. As long as you remember to prune your plants, without over pruning, you should be able to keep them vigorous and in flower.

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