For successful pruning to occur it is important to use the right equipment.
Using the right equipment for the pruning task you have will mean that the task will be easier for you and the wounds inflicted on the plant will heal quickly maintaining the health of your plants
Most gardeners can manage with just a few basic pruning tools.
You can read my other posts on Pruning Fruiting Trees and Pruning cool climate fruit trees here.
Choose your tools carefully. Remember, cheap tools can be expensive as they break easily and need replacing often, whereas good quality tools, if looked after, can last a lifetime!
Bypass secateurs are the most used tool in the garden. “Bypass” means that the blades slide past each other in a scissor cut as opposed to anvil secateurs that pinches a branch between a blade and a metal block edge.
Bypass secateurs make a cleaner cut and are easier to use for most small pruning jobs. A cleaner cut will cause less damage to the plant tissue and the wound will heal faster.
Secateurs can cut branches up to 1 to 2 cm in diameter.
Image sourced from Pinterest
Long handled Loppers are used for branches that are too large for secateurs. Loppers work the same way as hand pruners, but the long handles give you leverage and therefore more cutting power to cleanly cut through branches up to 5cm in diameter, depending on the plant and the condition of the wood. They can also be found in a bypass or anvil design.
A pruning saw is an essential tool for making cuts on branches larger than 5 cm. Pruning saws can be made with a folding or a fixed blade. Many are designed with a curved blade to cut on the backward or pull stroke instead of the push stoke. This makes cutting awkward overhead branches much easier. In general, saws with large teeth (2-3 per cm) are good for cutting larger green branches. Saws with a slimmer blade and smaller teeth (up to 5 per cm) are better for dead wood and smaller branches. Do not try to use a carpenter’s saw for pruning because the green wood will quickly clog the saw and dull the blade!
Pole Pruner. Pruning saws can also come as an extendable pole pruner with just a pruning saw blade or with an attached secateur blades, operated by a rope system. I prefer a pole pruner with just a pruning saw blade. These are great for branches that are out of reach as they save you having to use a ladder. They also give you a longer reach into the middle of a tree that may be difficult to get to because of the branch structure.
Be careful of branches falling from any height, they are always bigger and heavy then they look from the ground.
An electric or petrol pole saw or small chainsaw might be practical if you have an extensive orchard with large trees.
It is always good to wear eye protection when pruning to prevent saw dust getting into your eyes and deflect any branches.
Wearing a sturdy pair of gloves can prevent scratches to your hands.
Always disinfect your pruning tools (with diluted bleach or with eucalyptus oil) between plants to avoid spreading disease to healthy plants.
Keep tools sharp, clean, and oiled for best results. Have a look at these videos if you are not confident at tool maintenance, especially sharpening.
https://felco.com/en_za/services/maintenancePrevent rust by oiling your tools frequently.
A ladder can also be helpful, but make sure it is on stable, level ground and do not overextend your reach.
There are many other tools out there that are variations on these basic themes. If any of them makes your work easier and faster, it is probably a wise investment.
For information on when and how to prune and specific needs of different varieties see my blog at:
Pruning Fruiting Trees
Pruning cool climate fruit trees.