Pruners are designed to cut smoothly through thin pieces of wood, as well as anything softer, such as the non-woody stems of perennials. If the wood is thin enough (about half an inch or less) and you know where to make the cut, proceed. Trimmers do not require any special skills.
If you have more shrubs and perennials than lawns, then you will be using pruners more than any other tool, so it is good to take a moment to think about the steps you are going through and consider some tips to make the job easier Your body and your plants are good for your health.
Pruning shear blades have two types of cut: bypass and anvil. We will describe both here, but you should probably buy and use a bypass pruner.
Bypass pruners are the most common type and have a single-edged blade that will cut through a thick bottom when closed.
Anvil pruners have a blade that cuts to the centre of the base under the fat, touching that base as the cut is completed.
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Perfecting the cutting position of your bypass pruners: To obtain the most precise cutting position, align the blade itself with the area you are cutting. Remember that the blade passes through the side of its thick base, so that when you turn the tool over, the precise position through which the blade passes moves by about 1/4 inch. When cutting close to the main bar (a common action), you will often feel the need to use the tool "upside down".
Choose the correct angle. If your plant is branching in opposite directions, go straight through the stem above the node. If it is alternately branched, a straight cut is fine, but it is best to cut at an angle from the individual buds at the node at an incline. This will drain rainwater away from the buds so it doesn't get trapped on the stem or in the crotch and promote decay.
Drive the wood deep into the tree pruners. Open your pruners fully and insert the branch all the way in. It is tempting to cut the wood like a pair of scissors, but this weaker method of cutting puts pressure on your hands and dulls the tips of the blades.
Making the cut. Once you have placed the wood correctly, close the pruners through the branch in a smooth motion.
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Work comfortably. The main problem with pruners is that you are using only your hand muscles to make a lot of cuts. This can lead to fatigue and soreness and, worse still, repetitive stress injuries. To avoid these problems, always use the deepest part of the blade to make the cut for maximum leverage. Use the palm of your hand and the roots of your fingers to operate the pruners, not your fingertips. When wood cannot be trimmed because of its thickness or density (ironwood is more difficult to cut than pine), switch to the pruners.
Try keeping them in a belt holster for easy access. Go to a place where professional gardeners work, such as a botanical garden, and you will see everyone with pruners on their belts. Buy a holster that allows your pruners to fit snugly in it and has a hole in the bottom. This allows wood chips, dust and debris to fall off rather than collect there as usual.
Don't cut the cord. At some point, you will be tempted to cut a length of metal wire with your pruners. Don't do this; you will permanently scratch on the blade, making every cut you make afterwards more difficult. However, some pruners have a small notch where you can insert and cut the wire. Keep them sharp and clean. Dull pruners are useless and can easily be sharpened. Marie Iannotti gives you a step-by-step demonstration of how to clean and sharpen pruners.
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