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How to properly prune your garden?


At the end of winter, do you plan to draw shears, secateurs and other branch cutters to densify your plants in the summer? Mistrust, pruning at the wrong time, poorly executed or too severe can do more harm than good. Explanations.

The size of the garden is very important for the good harmony of it.

Be careful, however, not all plants are cut in the same way.

To discover

  • March: what vegetables and fruits are in season?

When should trees and shrubs in the garden be pruned?

It is necessary to abstain when it rains or freezes to avoid weakening the plants.

In either case, the cut will not be clean and the wound will heal poorly.

“Wet weather facilitates the development of fungal diseases.

A temperature of 10°C is more comfortable for the plant, which will heal better, but also for the gardener, who won't make mistakes with numb fingers

,” recalls Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean.

Only summer-flowering shrubs and perennials (buddleia, hydrangea, etc.) should be pruned at the end of winter, when the buds begin to appear.

This operation promotes the growth of young wood, which will bear the flowers in the summer.

On the other hand, shrubs that flower in spring (forsythia, lilac, etc.) must be cut after they flower, at the end of spring.

“The latter bloom on last year's wood.

By pruning them in March, you will never see them bearing a flower,”

explains Gilles Leblais.

If you do it after flowering, you will cause new shoots to start which will bear the flowers of the following year”.

Read alsoHow to prune your shrubs without killing them

Do fruit trees need thinning?

"It's not useless, but it's not mandatory either

," pleads Pascal Aspe.

Pruning is not necessary for the tree to be healthy or produce fruit.

When you prune it, you do it for your own reasons, which may be legitimate:

  • So that its fruits are more accessible

  • To make its fruits bigger

  • less shade

  • That its branches do not extend to the neighbor

It is therefore, in practice, formation pruning (of structure) or maintenance.

“A tree that you never prune is going to give fruit irregularly and of small size.

By removing ramifications inside the tree, without modifying its

structure, you control its production.

The tree will then produce fewer fruits, but of larger caliber, because they will be well ventilated and lit”

, continues Pascal Aspe.

"This thinning can be useful for increasing the fruit set of

apple trees


plum trees


peach trees 


apricot trees

", specifies

Alain-Niels Pontoppidan.

On the other hand,



pear trees 

are doing very well.


The operation will also be more effective if combined with a rejuvenation pruning.

“The most beautiful fruits, healthy, juicy and well colored are borne by the young wood.

It is therefore better to eliminate the withering branches, which have already given a lot of fruit and whose renewal is in place, continues Alain-Niels Pontoppidan.

In practice, when we observe an arcure (a branch in the form of a branched arc, editor's note), it is often the


below which extends the branch, smaller than the one above, that must be removed.

The tree is in the process of abandoning it in favor of the secondary branch, the one above.


Read the fileFruit trees and plants: our advice

A cut strengthens fragile trees?

This size is especially very risky.

“If the tree or shrub is weak, it means it has a problem


explains Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean


The soil may be too poor and deserves to be enriched with a thin layer of compost.

The plant can also lack water, or be badly positioned.

Pruning a stunted tree may weaken it further.

Because we must not forget that this creates wounds.

However, a diminished plant can have trouble healing and fighting against fungi or insects.

But the size bet can also be a winner.

“Because when you prune, the plant defends itself by producing young wood.

So that can save her.

It's a bit quits or double, ”

launches Pascal Aspe.

Should the tree be helped to heal?

"The tree itself knows how to heal its wounds and prevent

fungi or insects from entering it if the cut is

made correctly,"

explains François Hazard.

Applying a healing covering product to the uncovered parts is not necessary.

By its composition, this substance actually has only antiseptic and antifungal properties.

First rule: the cut must be made in the right place.


the whole branch, but only the branch.

Do not leave a snag

(too prominent piece of wood, editor's note).

Do not prune

flush with the branch either, but just after the neck (the bulge below

), at the point of insertion”,

explains Alain-Niels Pontoppidan.

Also make the notch slightly obliquely.

This prevents water from stagnating in the cut and causing the wound to rot.

When you use a branch cutter or pruner, always position the blade (the sharp side) on the side of the remaining branch, and the hammer (the counter-blade) on the side of what you are removing.

If you put your tool the other way around, the cut won't be clean and will have a hard time healing.

What to prune in the orchard?

Admittedly, it is at the end of winter that most fruit tree pruning is carried out (until bud burst, when the buds hatch).

"This must be done as late as possible so as not to hasten flowering"

, specifies Alain-Niels Pontoppidan.

But you can also prune green, that is to say between June and September, when there are leaves.

"It's a small complementary clarification, which allows to rebalance a tree or to perfect a size in transparency



explains Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean.

You can better visualize what you are doing because the silhouette of the tree is complete and you can take into account the shadow cast.

The sap being then active, the tree heals very quickly.

Read alsoIn the orchard, take good care of your fruit trees

Should dead wood be removed?

Dry twigs should be removed throughout the year for aesthetic reasons and to prevent the spread of disease to healthy parts.

In the spring, once the dead wood has been removed, it is easier to see what needs to be cut.

In the fall, avoid clearing up the garden.

"Keep the dry twigs of bushy


and what comes from the entanglement of plants"

, recommends Pascal Aspe.

“Don't remove all the stalks of faded flowers: the fauna would no longer have a refuge, and the

birds would no longer

have seeds

to eat.


Should fall and

spring cuts be avoided?

Healing is much less efficient in the fall (the sap is downward) and the risk of contamination is high, because fungi are very present in the air and soil.

Alain-Niels Pontoppidan also advises against pruning in the spring, when the sap rises, as well as during periods of drought and frost.

“If you trim your hedges in the spring


adds Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean, you risk dislodging birds that have nested there.

Read alsoBirds: how to install nesting boxes in the garden?

Should a tree be pruned when planting?

"It is a mistake to want to proportion the aerial part of a tree to its root system



explains Alain-Niels Pontoppidan.

“It makes its sap mainly from its foliage which does photosynthesis, and not from its roots.

The role of the latter is above all to draw the water necessary for photosynthesis.

The newly planted tree is already handicapped in its ability to pump water because of its damaged roots during uprooting.

If, in addition, it removes its light sensors, it is the double penalty.

The best way to help it at planting time is to water it regularly.

It is better to postpone the pruning to the following year.

On the other hand, before replanting it, you must cleanly cut the damaged roots (but only these) with a sharp pruner.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-23

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