Shape Up Your Garden: It’s time to Prune Shrubs and Trees

The cold is leaving us and the days are growing longer, it’s time to get the garden ready for spring. The first step is pruning.

Living in an urban environment means our green spaces often need a little extra TLC. With a few tips and tricks, you can transform your overgrown small garden space into a flourishing oasis. Pruning trees and shrubs is essential for maintaining their health, promoting proper growth, and enhancing your garden’s aesthetic.

Before you start hacking away at your precious plants, do your homework. Each species has its own pruning requirements, so take the time to research the specific plant before you make any cuts. But here is a general guide to get you started:

Prune a twig or branches back to an outfacing bud.

First, invest in a good pair of pruning shears. Make sure they’re sharp and clean to ensure clean cuts (at a 45-degree angle). This will minimize damage to your plants. And don’t forget to sanitize your tools with rubbing alcohol between cuts to prevent the spread of disease.

Second, technique.  Remember the three D’s: dead, damaged, and diseased. Start by removing any dead or diseased branches to promote healthy growth and prevent the spread of infection.

Then, take a step back and assess the overall shape of your shrub. Aim to create an open, airy structure that allows plenty of light and air to circulate through the canopy. Do not remove more than 20 percent of the plants’ live wood. If more is removed the tree undergoes stress. An over-pruned tree or shrub will strain to absorb light and water which contains vital nutrients for the plant’s survival.


As a certified NYC tree pruner, I completed the course offered by Trees NYC. I enjoyed talking shop with like-minded garden folks and I learned a tremendous amount about pruning techniques and trees’ beneficial impact in the urban landscape of our city.  If you share a passion for gardening like me, consider becoming a certified NYC tree pruner too. Visit Trees NYC for class schedules and to learn more about pruning trees. And keep in the canopy, follow @treesny on IG.

If you have pruning or gardening questions, reach out to me on Instagram (@theglorifedtomato), I’m glad to help. Happy Spring!

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