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Pruning is a key part of keeping your plants healthy and well-shaped. If you prune with a poor quality or blunt tool the stem or branch is crushed and this can make the plant more susceptible to fungal infections. It is also much easier to prune with a sharp tool making garden maintenance much more enjoyable.


A good pair of secateurs for pruning shrubs and small tree branches is vital. I invested in some Felco secateurs about eight years ago and they are still as good as the day I bought them. They are expensive initially but good value in the long term.

 After using your cutting tools, you should remove any sap from the blades as this will harden and blacken as it dries and it is much easier to remove before it is allowed to build up. Do this by rubbing the blades with fine steel wool or a cloth and Brasso. After cleaning, add a thin layer of oil with a cloth. This prevents oxygen reaching the metal so rust cannot form.

Tools will also need sharpening on a regular basis depending on how often you use them. It is much easier to get a sharp edge back on good quality (high carbon steel) tools.

The blades can be sharpened by using a fine sharpening stone prepared with a little oil. If sharpening bypass secateurs the stone should be used against the outside edge of the blades at about 30 degrees, with one swipe against the inner edge at the end to remove the burr. Alternatively, you can use a carbon tool sharpener to sharpen the blades after each use.

It is also important to keep your tools clean to prevent transferring any infection from one plant to another. If you do have to prune a diseased plant, clean your tools afterwards (and between each cut ideally) with a rag soaked in a solution of garden disinfectant, such as Jeyes Fluid or Citrox, to prevent it spreading.

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