Which? reveals the key pruning jobs for autumnDiscover top tips for perfect pruning

21 October 2015

Autumn pruning

Check secateur blades are sharp

With autumn well underway, its time to think about pruning to keep your garden healthy and tidy.

Pruning is essential for sprucing up your shrubs and keeping your garden in tip top condition.

But a poorly pruned plant can look sad and unsightly, so it's important to check you're using the right tools and techniques.

The best secateurs are robust enough for heavy pruning, but light enough for everyday use. To see which pairs come top in our tough tests, check out our Best Buy secateurs

Pruning tools and tips

Removing dead, damaged or diseased wood will encourage new steams to grow and improve the overall tidiness of your outside space. Use the following tools for each type of pruning job:

  • Secateurs are for cutting back plant and shrub stems. Make sure the blades are sharp, as blunt ones can crush delicate stems and tear plants, exposing them to disease and frost
  • Use loppers – which are like secateurs with longer handles – for cutting through thicker wood. Only lop when strictly necessary though, as lopping can destroy a plant's shape and symmetry 
  • Tackle branches with a pruning saw. Choose one with a comfortable handle that has a blade guard or sheath you can attach to your belt for safety.

You may want to use a garden shredder to dispose of the debris. Avoid shredder blockages by feeding thicker branch ends in first and clean out your machine after shredding sappy waste. 

For help in choosing the perfect machine, see which ones we recommend as Best Buy shredders.

How to prune

Pruning tree

Remove any damaged or diseased wood

Begin the cut opposite a healthy, outwards-facing bud and proceed at an angle, finishing just above the bud. Don't cut too far from the bud or leave ragged edges. 

For thicker wood, use a knife to tidy up the cut. Always leave a clean cut to encourage healthy re-growth. 

Prune apple trees in late autumn or winter, when the branches are bare. The aim is to open up the tree, allowing air and light to circulate. Watch our video guide to pruning an apple tree

Of course, not all plants need pruning at the same time of the year. Always refer to the label or a reference book to find out what's appropriate for your plant. 

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