What is Pruning? Everything You Need to Know

What is Pruning? Everything You Need to Know

Whether you are a keen gardener with the greenest of thumbs, or just starting out on your gardening journey, if you want a healthy, beautiful and thriving garden, pruning is a vital skill to learn.

Pruning is an important gardening practice that can help to maintain the health, shape, and productivity of plants, as well as improve their appearance. This applies to many plants; from trees to shrubs and other plants and flowers.

What is Pruning?

At it’s most basic level, pruning is what we call the task of cutting back or removing certain parts of a plant, such as branches, stems, or leaves. Critical for garden health, without proper pruning, your shrubs, bushes, trees and plants will not have the maintenance and support they need to thrive.

Knowing when to prune, depending on the season and temperature, and how to prune, for example, when to just give a light trim and when to really cut it back, is important for any garden proud homeowner.

Benefits of Pruning?

Pruning is important for a number of reasons. Critically, because, when done incorrectly, it can have a serious impact on the health, look and growth of your plants. At worst, improper pruning can kill a plant altogether or permantenly stunt it’s growth. So keep reading to learn how to do it right!

Some of the many benefits of pruning include:

Rose pruning perth

Promote Growth

Firstly, it can help to promote the growth of new branches, leaves, and flowers. By removing dead, damaged, or diseased parts of a plant, you can encourage new growth and help the plant to remain healthy and productive. Pruning fruit trees encourages increased productivity and improves growth rates season upon season. In other hedges and shrubs, it increase growth by encouraging new shoots, helping plants grow taller and stronger. And in flowering plants, pruning improves growth and makes sure that they will continue to flower.

Prevent Disease

Pruning can be strategically applied to remove any parts of the plant that are dead, damaged, or infected with disease. This helps to prevent the spread of disease or pests to other parts of the plant, and allows the plant to focus its energy on healthy growth. While cutting it right back may sometimes be needed and not look great – it will be worth it to save it in the long run.


No one likes an untidy bush… straggly, overgrown hedges and plants make the entire garden look untidy and un-cared for, while shaped, maintained plants give the whole garden a lift!

Pruning can be used to train and control plants to help them grow to the desired size, hight and shape to suit your garden design. From shrubs that are pruned into round balls or vines that are trained to grow in the right directions, pruning will definitely improve the astheics of your garden.


Especially important in winter, pruning also allows you to remove dead or heavy branches and limbs which might otherwise fall and injure unsuspecting passersby. From risks of stong winds or heavy rains, or very dry periods where dead branches grow brittle, careful pruning keeps your garden safe. It also helps to deter pests or vermin by eliminating potential breeding grounds or hiding places for pests, and increasing air circulation can make it more difficult for them to thrive. Additionally, pruning can help to prevent branches from touching nearby structures, which can provide a pathway for pests to enter your home or garden.

Protects Property

Not just increasing garden safety for people, pruning helps protect your property from falling limbs on cars or your house, prevent branches scratching windows or car paint, and even stop branches or heavy leaves from clogging up your drains causing more work.

Thick and overgrown shrubs can even collect dirt and create mould/scum patches on the edges of paths or driveways that take pressure cleaning or heavy scrubbing to remove. It’s always better to keep things tidy and under control.

Improve light

Tree pruning and removal

Some of your other plants or even lawn might suffer if your garden isn’t pruned back regularly. Thick or tall growth can reduce sunlight from getting to the lower areas and plants in your garden, reducing their health and growth chances by limiting their sun and air intake. Pruning decreases the competition between your plants for the nutrients they need to thrive.

Aids Reticulation

If your garden relies on an irrigation system to get the water it needs, garden overgrowth is one of your reticulation systems biggest problems. If hedges and plants aren’t pruned back regularly, they can block a sprinklers water coverage, causing dry patches in your lawns or stopping certain plants from getting any water at all.

Now that you know what pruning is and how important it is for your garden, let’s go a little deeper and learn more about the different types of pruning techniques to use.

Types of Pruning?

There are a few different types of pruning you can use, depending on the season and the type of plant; types of pruning will also differ depending on if it’s for trees, shrubs, fruit plants or flowers.

Types of Tree Pruning

At Perth Gardening Experts, we cann’t help with any major tree pruning – only for smaller trees under 3m in height – for anything higher, you’ll need to get an arborist involved. We’ll give you some tips here, but always make sure that you feel confident and safe – and never prune any heavy or large branches above your head!


hand pruning tree branches perth

Thinning involves selectively removing branches from the crown to increase light penetration and air circulation, reduce wind resistance, and promote new growth. Done correctly, thinning can open up the canopy of a plant and allow more air and sunlight to reach the inner branches and leaves. This can reduce the risk of fungal diseases and promote healthy growth. Especially important in fruit tree pruning, it will improve the production of your fruit trees.

Lifting / Raising

This type of pruning involves removing the lower branches of the tree, and is usually done to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians above paths, streets and walkways.


This pruning involves removing the upper branches of the tree to reduce the overall height or spread of the tree. This is usually to prevent the tree from interfering with power lines or structures, or to reduce the weight of the canopy to prevent breakage. To avoid having to apply this technique, it is important to stay on top of pruning the tree to train it as it grows – rather than having to do a big cutback later.


This is usually the reason you get a garden maintenance company or arbourist in – when you want to shape the tree to suit a garden design, the space or improve the overall look. Common shapes are natural, spherical round styles, or keeping the bottom of the tree cut in a straight line for a very tidy look.


Often done in the early stages of a young tree’s growth, structual pruning is used to improve the structure and stability of the tree, training from a young age to growth thicker where needed and promote the right shape for it to grow into.

Types of Shrub Pruning

At Perth Gardening Experts, we have experience in all types of shrub pruning, whether it’s for shape, improving the overall look, improving health or more. So if you decide that, after reading our blog, you want some help – just give us a call.


Something we are particularly passionate about, maintenance pruning involves removing dead or diseased branches of your shrub, and shaping the shrub to maintain its size and shape. This type of pruning is the key to keeping your garden looking great – year round.

Renewal / Growth

This pruning is applied when you need to cut back the entire shrub to stimulate new growth and rejuvenate the plant. This is typically done in older shrubs or those that have become overgrown.

Pruning for Fruit Trees, Bushes and Plants, and Flowers

Now we’ve covered how to prune trees and shrubs, it’s now time to look at how to prune fruiting and flowering trees, bushes, plants and flowers such as roses to promote growth of the flowers and fruit.

If you know anything about plants and flowers, you’ll know there are hundreds of varieties and best practice pruning methods will differ based on the variety, the season and your location, so we’ll only be able to give a basic overview in this blog to get you started.

closeup thorn bush with berries

Pruning Fruiting Trees and Bushes

The best time to prune fruiting trees and bushes in Perth is during the plant’s dormant season, which is typically in winter. Pruning during this time helps the plant to focus its energy on new growth in the spring and summer, and it also reduces the risk of damaging the plant’s fruit production.

Here are some tips on pruning fruit trees:

  1. Remove dead and diseased wood: As you prune, look for any dead or diseased wood and remove it. This will prevent the spread of disease and encourage healthy growth.
  2. Thin out overcrowded branches: If your tree or bush has too many branches, it’s important to thin them out to allow for better air circulation and light penetration. This will promote better fruit production.
  3. Cut back to outward-facing buds: When making cuts, be sure to cut back to an outward-facing bud. This will encourage new growth to grow outward, which will help keep the plant from becoming too dense.
  4. Prune to promote fruit production: Finally, be sure to prune in a way that promotes fruit production. This may mean cutting back some branches more than others to encourage fruiting spurs to form.

For deciduous fruit trees like apples, pears, and peaches, it’s best to prune them during their winter dormancy, usually from late June to early August in Perth. For evergreen fruit trees like citrus, you can prune them throughout the year, but the best time is right after the fruit has been harvested, typically in late winter to early spring.

It’s important to note that pruning timing can vary depending on the specific variety of fruiting tree or bush you have, as well as the local climate conditions. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do some research or consult with a local gardening expert to find the best pruning schedule and more information on pruning fruit trees in Perth.

Pruning Flowering Bushes and Plants

The best time to prune flowering bushes and plants in Perth, Australia depends on the specific plant species, but a general rule of thumb is to prune after flowering has finished. This ensures that you don’t accidentally remove any flower buds that have formed for the upcoming season.

Here are some tips on how to prune flowering bushes and plants in Perth:

  1. Choose the right tools: For smaller flowering plants, pruning shears or hand-held loppers may be sufficient. For larger bushes, a pruning saw may be necessary. Make sure your tools are sharp and clean to prevent damaging the plant.
  2. Remove dead or diseased wood: As you prune, look for any dead or diseased wood and remove it. This will help prevent the spread of disease and promote healthy growth.
  3. Cut back to healthy growth: When making cuts, be sure to cut back to a healthy growth point, such as a bud or lateral branch. Avoid cutting back too much at once, as this can weaken the plant.
  4. Don’t over-prune: It’s important not to over-prune flowering bushes and plants, as this can lead to reduced flowering or even death of the plant. Only prune what is necessary to promote healthy growth and shape the plant.

Examples of flowering bushes that require pruning include roses, hydrangeas, and lilacs, which should be pruned after flowering. Other plants, like hibiscus, can be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Pruning Roses

The best time to prune roses in Perth, Australia is in winter, during their dormant season. The ideal time to prune is after the last frost of the season and before new growth appears, which is usually between June and August.

If you are growing roses in Perth, here are some tips on how to prune them:

  1. Choose the right time: As mentioned earlier, the best time to prune roses is in winter, during their dormant season. Wait until after the last frost of the season and before new growth appears, which is usually between June and August in Perth, Australia.
  2. Identify the canes: Look for the main canes or stems of the rose bush. You’ll want to keep the strongest and healthiest ones and remove the weak or diseased ones.
  3. Remove dead and diseased wood: Using sharp, clean pruning shears, cut out any dead, damaged, or diseased wood. Be sure to cut back to healthy wood.
  4. Shape the plant: Prune to shape the plant and encourage an open, airy structure that allows good airflow and sunlight penetration. Cut back to a leaf node that faces the direction you want new growth to go.
  5. Cut back to an outward-facing bud: When making cuts, cut back to an outward-facing bud to encourage new growth to grow outward, which will help keep the plant from becoming too dense.
  6. Clean up green waste: Once you’ve finished pruning, remove all debris from around the plant to help prevent the spread of disease.
  7. Fertilize and water: After pruning, fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer to help promote new growth, and water the plant thoroughly to help it recover and encourage new growth.

It’s important not to over-prune roses, as this can weaken the plant and reduce its ability to produce flowers. Only prune what is necessary to promote healthy growth and maintain the desired shape of the plant. By following these steps and pruning during the dormant season, you can help promote healthy growth, encourage abundant flowering, and maintain the overall health of your rose bushes.

Best Time To Prune

Garden pruning shears

The best time to prune plants varies depending on the type of plant. In general, plants can be pruned when they are dormant, which is typically during the winter months when the plant has lost its leaves and is not actively growing.

However, some plants should not be pruned during the winter, such as those that bloom in the spring, because pruning during the winter can remove the buds that would have produced the flowers. These plants should be pruned immediately after they finish flowering, which is usually in the late spring or early summer.

For plants that are grown for their foliage, such as shrubs and hedges, it’s best to prune them in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This allows the plant to produce new growth that will fill in the areas that were pruned.

In general, it’s important to research the specific plant you want to prune and understand its growth habits, flowering time, and preferred pruning time. This will ensure that you prune the plant at the right time and in the right way to promote healthy growth and flowering.


Proper pruning is crucial to keep your trees, shrubs and plants healthy, tidy and attractive and to encourage flowers and fruit. You can see by now hoe important it is to do it not just at the right time, but in the right way to protect and increase the health and beauty of your plants.

If the thought of tackling your own plant and shrub pruning seems too stressful and you want to call in the experts, you can always get in touch with our team at Perth Gardening Experts on 08 6263 4645. We’ll take care of it for you throughout the year to make sure your plants grow healthy, stay in beautiful shape and look amazing in every season.

Pruning Fruit Trees | A Step-by-Step Guide

Pruning Fruit Trees | A Step-by-Step Guide

As the weather changes, trees and plants can come under stress. During these times, it’s crucial to know how to take care of your precious fruit trees. 

An important part of this is pruning your fruit trees. 

For inexperienced gardeners, pruning can feel intimidating — once a branch is pruned, there’s no going back! However, it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. 

As part of our regular garden maintenance services, we prune a lot of citrus and fruit trees in Perth, citrus fruit trees seem to be especially popular with our clients. So we thought we would provide a few tips on how to take care of them through proper pruning! 

In this blog post, we’ll run you through some essentials you need to know to keep your fruit trees pruned, healthy and happy along with a few of our “garden geek” tips. 

close up of fruit after lemon tree pruning

Why Should You Prune Fruit Trees?

Pruning your fruit trees is important to ensure trees stay healthy and happy. This is particularly true during winter for most types of fruit trees. 

Essentially, the pruning process is about promoting growth for your trees. Branches that you cut back will re-grow, in turn encouraging the tree to produce more fruit. 

Pruning also helps the tree’s general health and can make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Pruning trees helps to:

  • develop and maintain ideal tree shape and size
  • allow more sunlight into the centre of the tree
  • improve air circulation around leaves and branches
  • reduce the risk of disease
  • remove dead branches — these can harm the tree and become a safety hazard!
Close up of oranges on tree after prunin

When Is The Best Time For Pruning Fruit Trees?

There are several types of pruning and many types of fruit trees.  Pruning is recommended at different times of the year depending on the climate, why you are pruning, and the type of fruit tree.

In most cases fruit trees are pruned in winter, or early spring, when the tree is dormant (not actively growing). 

Dormant pruning

In Perth dormant pruning is typically performed in the colder months (June to August). 

This type of pruning aims to protect the structure of a mature tree, or help a young tree form a basic shape. It stops branches from crowding together or crossing over one another. 

Dead, diseased or broken branches can also be removed. These are not just unsightly, they drain the plant’s energy!

Summer pruning

Summer pruning is often done around December in Perth, to keep vigorous trees to a manageable size. 

Summer pruning is also useful to maintain a pleasing shape. 

The other reason for summer pruning is that some types of fruit trees, like apricots and cherries, become more disease prone if pruned in winter. 

During Summer pruning, you usually remove any suckers (shoots that grow low down on the trunk). These often grow as a response to compromised roots.  

Cut them as low as possible to discourage reshooting. This helps to conserve the tree’s energy for more productive growth. 

Inner-facing branches are removed to improve sunlight and airflow to the centre of the tree. Other branches can be shortened, both to balance the tree’s appearance and to prevent them getting too long and thin – these types of branches are prone to breakage when loaded with fruit. 

Other seasonal preferences:

Citrus – prune tips all year round as needed

Figs – prune in winter

Apples and pears – deciduous trees are pruned while dormant

Grapes – prune hard in winter, trim in the warm months

The life cycle of a fruit tree

How often you should prune also depends on the age of the tree.

Pruning in year one is to form the tree’s shape and encourage growth. Trim the central trunk down to where there is an outward-facing bud, about 75cms above ground. 

The next year remove inward-facing branches and lower shoots.  Reduce upward shoots by half to allow for new branches.

By year three your fruit tree will have its shape. Cut the best branches in half – this strengthens the tree to carry fruit.

By year four you won’t need to prune heavily after fruiting. Large branches can be reduced by one-third and the top pruned to keep the height manageable.

After five years, pruning your mature tree once a year after fruiting is all that’s needed.

If you want to hand over the fruit tree pruning to the professionals, have a look at our tree pruning services and get in touch. 

pruning a fruit tree with shears

What Tools Do You Need to Prune Fruit Trees?

When pruning fruit trees, your main tool will probably be sharp secateurs. You might also use a tree lopping tool for larger branches, or a pruning saw if making major structural changes. 

Before pruning, and even between pruning individual trees, disinfect the blades of tools you use with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (don’t make it any stronger!)

This removes traces of tree sap and other contaminants, reducing the risk of disease being carried from tree to tree by tools. 

How To Prune Fruit Trees — A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you understand the “why” and have all the tools you need, it’s time to learn the steps to a perfect pruning.  

Step 1: Clean Up the Deadwood

Firstly, examine your tree for branches that are dead or broken. These can be a hazard during extreme weather and a danger to your tree, encouraging disease and stunting growth. Cut these away to help your tree (and your property) stay healthy!

Step 2: Trim out Sprouts and Suckers

Your next step is to trim unnecessary growth like water sprouts and suckers. 

Water sprouts are vertical growths caused by stress or damage — for example, from severe weather, soil compaction, drought, or disease. 

Growing from dormant, buried buds in the bark, water sprouts appear on the trunk and branches of a tree, sapping the tree’s energy. They can ruin its shape, allowing pathogens and disease in and weakening an otherwise strong structure.

Suckers look similar, but grow around the base of the tree from the root system, stealing nutrients and ruining the ‘look’ of a tree. They’re also best removed to conserve the tree’s energy. 

Healthy Pruned Orange Tree

Step 3: Cut Back and Thin Out

At this point, it’s time to begin the main job. 

First,  thin out the branches of your fruit tree to allow more light and air into the canopy. This will help your tree produce more fruit! 

Next, cut back any wayward branches running sideways, downwards or crowding over each other. 

Step back and take a look at your tree. If branches are spaced out evenly and spreading out from the middle of the tree, then you’re golden. 

If you can still see branches competing or crossing over each other, check if any are growing from the same spot or next to each other from different points on the tree. 

In either case, keep the healthiest branch with the best angle from the tree (branches should sit at approx. two o’clock or ten o’clock position). Remove the weaker competing branch.

Finish up your thinning out process by giving all branches around 15-30cm of air space. (Smaller branches can be left a little closer together.) 

Step 4: Topping and Skirting

Another aspect to pruning fruit trees is topping and skirting. 


Pruning the top of a tree to make it easier to harvest from is controversial. It is best to only do this when necessary (for example to help a tree recover from storm damage) and if you are confident the tree can recover. 

Topping trees can lead to unbalanced root-to-crown ratio, disturbing the tree’s ability to produce energy and photosynthesise. A tree may also be shocked by topping and grow erratically. These problems can lead to tree death.


This is the process of cutting back branches hanging low to the ground. Well-developed trees should be skirted to about 75cm above ground level, leaving enough room for the branches to droop a little when bearing fruit, without dragging on the ground. 

Step 5: Heading Back

Heading back is the process of shortening a branch or new shoot to encourage growth, and is performed on the outer edges of the tree. Think of this as giving the tree a haircut! 

Heading back keeps a tree looking neat, and helps branches grow solid and strong.

For best results, cut back approx. 20-30% of last year’s growth — this could be anywhere between 5cm and 1.5m depending on the tree type and maturity. 


Remember, when pruning any tree it’s best to cut as close to the branch as possible!

Fruit Tree Pruning Shapes

For an extra special touch, shape your fruit trees in a way that suits the overall look of your garden. This will make your trees look well-cared for and give your garden a consistent aesthetic.


Natural shaping is a “hands-off” philosophy that says that a fruit tree will fruit quicker and more strongly if left without pruning. Those who are fans of natural gardening techniques may prefer this option. 

Trees can grow very tall using this method, and fruit may be difficult to harvest. Suckers and sprouts may also become a problem. 

Open Centre

The “open center” shape is best suited to stone fruit such as plum, nectarine, apricot or cherry trees. This may also be referred to as a “vase shape”. 

Often, stone fruit will grow this way naturally to begin with — in this case, select three to five of the strongest branches as a foundation and prune away any branches that cross over or compete with each other. 

If your tree is shaped differently, prune branches into the vase shape described by choosing the strongest branches as a basis. 

Prune branches in a way that leaves open space at the centre of the tree — this lets in more light and allows for better airflow. 

Central Leader

A central leader shape is where the central trunk or “leader” forms the basis of the tree’s shape. 

The central leader is emphasised by pruning all branches on the lower section of the trunk. To achieve this, trim all branches from around 9m down to the soil level. 

hand pruning shears tools to prune trees