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  • Prune for structure and plant health - plan your pruning before you start cutting.

  • Know the plant’s natural form.

  • Is it more open or compact?

  • Does it look better with selective pruning or can it be sheared?

  • Does it have a central leader (or growth point) that must be maintained?

  • What shape is the most pleasing to the eye?

  • Prune according to plant growth cycles

  • Prune deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves) during their dormant period before any new buds form

  • Know when your plants are entering their dormant period - for some it is winter, for some natives it is summer. Avoid pruning in their high growth periods.

  • Be sure to leave stalks or branches the plant needs for growth next season. Some plants fruit or flower on second year branches (check with your local nursery)

  • Use clean sharp tools so you don’t tear the bark. Never pull a branch off by hand.

  • Make your pruning cuts according to the plant type - trees and shrubs are pruned differently. Check the Resource section for more information on pruning before you start.

  • Hire a licensed contractor if pruning cannot be done from the ground or a short ladder. NEVER prune near energized utility lines - call a qualified and licensed tree contractor.

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