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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