Pruning is an essential gardening job to carry out at most times of the year to achieve a healthy and productive garden, in fact, it’s one of the best things households can do for their trees and shrubs. 

Cutting back certain plants at particular times of the year can encourage flowering, help define shape, control growth, and even reduce the risk of infection.

Tom Su, garden and landscaping expert and the owner of Lawn Edging, has detailed five plants to prune this month and how to go about pruning them.

1. Fruit trees

Many, like apples and pears, “benefit” from a winter prune. To prune fruit tries, cut out any dead, diseased, or crossing branches. 

Tom claimed that gardeners “will need” pruning shears for smaller branches, loppers for bigger ones, and a pruning saw for large limbs. 

Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Next, look out for branches that cross each other or seem to be growing inward. 

The aim is to open up the centre for better airflow and light penetration. The expert instructed: “Always make cuts just above a bud that’s facing the direction you want the next branch to grow.”

2. Gooseberry and currant bushes

These fruit in summer on old wood, so remove very old stems to “make way for younger ones”. 

Speaking from experience, Tom claimed: “Keeping the young, vigorous branches gave me a bounty of gooseberries for pies. Look for old, darker wood – that’s what you want to remove and keep the vibrant and young stems.”

Gardeners need to ensure they cut close to the ground or main stem, avoiding leaving stubs.

3. Roses

When it comes to roses, the shrub and climbing types especially need pruning. The expert explained: “You need to prune them to prevent wind damage and to shape them. 

“When I was an amateur gardener, I remember not doing it. One of my climbers got thrashed in a winter storm. Lesson learned.”

To prune roses, cut back diseased or dead stems. For shrub roses, reduce by about a third and for climbers, just cut back any really long stems that might whip around in winter winds.

4. Perennial herbs

Sage, oregano, and mint can get “unruly” if not pruned. Cut them back to keep them tidy. Tom recalled that he did this with his sage last year, and it “came back even lusher” in spring. 

To prune, simply trim back the plant to neaten it up, leaving about two inches of growth above the ground.

5. Deciduous grasses

Once they’ve finished their show, give them a chop to “make way for fresh vigorous growth”. 

The expert said: “Gather the grass like you’re making a ponytail and chop. Cut about four to six inches above the ground. 

“For large grasses, I’ve sometimes had to get a bit creative – one time, I even used a bungee cord to hold it together while I made my cuts.”

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