Carol Chernega has been a writer, lecturer, and professional gardener for over 20 years. Her business, One Garden at a Time, specializes in hand pruning. She works mostly in the Eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA See her in action at:

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Making the Right Cut  

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Making the Right Cut
by Carol Chernega - posted 04/09/18

The most important thing to remember about pruning is this:  Always cut back to a bud or branching point. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

When you cut back to a bud or branching point, you’ll never leave a stub – see the picture for the wrong thing to do.

A stub like this will rarely promote new growth – it’ll just die back to the branching point – and dead wood is an entry point for insects and disease to enter the plant.  We don’t want that! 

When possible, make your cut straight up and down so that water runs right off it, rather than at an angle, which would allow water to sit on top of the exposed cut.

If you’re cutting back to a bud, you can direct the future growth of that branch by choosing the correct bud.  For example, if you cut right above a bud on the right side of the branch – it’ll grow off to the right.  So, you can make sure that the branch doesn’t start growing inward towards the middle of the shrub or tree.



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