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The Dirt

Tell us about your pruning mistakes

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Erik Draper
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Erik Draper

Artfully done, pruning leads to healthier and more attractive shrubs, trees, and vines. Botched, it’s bad for the plant, and you hope the neighbors won’t notice the hideous error.

In his article “Oh, No! Now What?” in the January/February 2011 issue of Fine Gardening (#137), Erik Draper describes five common pruning mistakes, explains why you shouldn’t do them, and offers a remedies that will help your plants recover.

My tale of woe
Many gardeners err on the conservative side, and don’t prune enough, or decisively enough. I’m generally like that, too, but one day last summer, I was in a hurry when I decided to prune my ridiculously rampant Northern kiwi vine. Clip, clip, and off came the suckers. But then, in a moment of inattention, I reached into the tangle of vines, and instead of clipping a sucker, I clipped a wire strand of the trellis, and a heavy fruiting arm drooped toward the ground. I haven’t yet repaired the damage; I’m hoping to do that this winter, when the absence of leaves lighten the load and make it easier to see what needs doing.

Anyone else care to fess up? We’d love to hear about your pruning errors, and how you fixed them. Log in, and post a comment below.

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  1. user-7006867 12/13/2010

    I enjoyed the article a lot. It was very well explained and had a good amount of science in it, which is often left out in such articles.

    However, I have to disagree with the "fix" on the first overly snipped shrub. The fix shows to remove all lateral branches on each stem. I would think a leggy bottom would result and too much fullness would be sacrificed. Be definition, allowing just the leader to grow would ensure a leggy bottom.

    If I want the bush to be full and thick, leaders are not good and lateral branches are good. The point of the original pruning might have been to create fullness. Maybe I would apply the suggested fix to half or a third of the main branches, so sun and air get in, but fullness remains. Or maybe I would remove some main branches all the way to the base.

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