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ink_graphic.gif Pruning Tools Maintenance

Garden Tools and Sprayers for Your Landscape

Use the proper tools for the job and maintain them like
The Professionals !

Keeping your pruning tools in shape is just as important as pruning your plants at the best time.

Use the proper tools for the job ! Keep your plant materials healthy. The choice of which tool to use depends largely on the size of branches to be pruned and the amount of pruning to be done. Quality tools will give you quality results. Forged pruning tools are not only durable, but may be sharpened with confidence, as the forging and tempering process, highlighted by the finish to the steel, will give the steel a harder structure for optimum durability.

The smaller a branch is when pruned, the sooner the wound created will heal. Hand pruners or pruning shears are used to prune small branches ( safely: 3/4" ) and many different kinds are available. Hand pruners can be grouped into by-pass or anvil styles based on the blade configuration. Anvil style pruners have a straight blade that cuts the branch against a small anvil or block as the handles are squeezed. By-pass pruners use a curved cutting blade that slides past a broader lower blade, similar to scissors. To prevent unnecessary tearing or crushing of tissues, it is best to use a by-pass style pruner.

Slightly larger branches that cannot be cut with a hand pruner may be cut with small pruning saws or lopping shears ( up to 2.5" safely ) with larger cutting surfaces and greater leverage. Lopping shears are also available in by-pass and anvil styles.

For branches too large to be cut with a hand pruner or lopping shears, pruning saws must be used. Pruning saws differ greatly in handle styles, the length and shape of the blade, and the layout and type of teeth. Most have tempered metal blades that retain their sharpness for many pruning cuts. Unlike most other saws, pruning saws are often designed to cut on the pull-stroke.

To ensure that satisfactory cuts are made and to reduce fatigue, keep your pruning tools sharp and in good working condition. Hedge shears, hand pruners and lopping shears should be periodically sharpened with a carborundum sharpening stone or graphite rod. Replacement blades are available for many styles. Pruning saws should be professionally sharpened or periodically replaced. To reduce cost, many styles have replaceable blades.

Tools should be clean and sanitized as well as sharp. Although sanitizing tools may be inconvenient and seldom practiced, doing so may prevent the spread of disease from infected to healthy plants on contaminated tools. Tools become contaminated when they come into contact with fungi, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that cause disease in plants. Most pathogens need some way of entering the plant to cause disease, and fresh wounds are perfect places for infections to begin. Microorganisms on tool surfaces are easily introduced into susceptible plants when subsequent cuts are made. The need for sanitizing tools can be greatly reduced by pruning during the dormant season.

If sanitizing is necessary it should be practiced as follows: before each branch is cut, sanitize pruning tools with either 70% denatured alcohol, or with liquid household bleach diluted 1:9 with water (1 part bleach : 9 parts water). Tools should be immersed in the solution, preferably for 1-2 minutes, and pruning debris and particles should be wiped from all cutting surfaces. Bleach is corrosive to metal surfaces, so tools should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water after each use, then machine oil or penetrating oil spray applied. Silicone sprays are great for squeaks, but protect the steel with an oil based solution. Remember, Use the proper tools for the job !


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