Winter is a good time to prune trees and large shrubs as they are best pruned when dormant. This dormant period runs from late Autumn until late Winter and wounds tend to heal quickly once Spring arrives and growth begins again. Although there are some exceptions to this rule (Birch trees are pruned in Autumn and Cherries in the Summer when the risk of silver-leaf disease is lower) in general, now is a good time for maintenance.
The key to effective pruning is using tools with sharp, clean blades which give quick, smooth cuts allowing very little chance for disease to enter the tree or shrub through the cut wound. The two tools which every gardener needs for these tasks are a good pruning saw and a strong pair of loppers.
The Bulldog pruning saw, which recently won the Garden News ‘Best Buy’ for garden saws has an 80 tooth, 300mm curved stainless steel blade and comfortable soft grip. It is designed to cut branches quickly and easily with the minimum of damage to the tree itself and replacement blades are readily available should you need them. Remember that if you are cutting a heavy branch it is advisable to put in an under cut further along the limb to avoid damaging the bark when the branch falls.
Bulldog have a number of great loppers available including some with extending handles for extra reach and some with a ratchet action for extra power. Loppers are ideal for branches that are about an inch wide or smaller as these tend to ‘whip’ around too much if you try and cut them with a saw, leading to unnecessary tears in the bark. Loppers are also equipped with two different types of blade; bypass for cutting soft, green wood and anvil for hard, dead wood which means you should choose your loppers carefully before purchasing. All Bulldog loppers have aluminium handles which are strong, but lightweight to help make pruning easier, even above head height.
Hygiene is critical when pruning, many diseases can be passed around the garden by blunt and dirty blades. So if you are pruning a tree which you know has been affected by disease, make sure you clean your blades with a household disinfectant before using the tools on a healthy tree. It is also preferable to use sharp blades; so change your saw blade regularly and sharpen your loppers with a good quality sharpening stone which, although expensive will make the job much easier and last many years with correct use. If you are unsure of how to use a sharpening stone then there are a number of great tutorial videos available on YouTube.
Finally, please remember when using sharp pruning tools to wear gloves and if you are cutting above your head it is advisable to wear goggles and a hard hat. Bulldog Tools don’t want any of their customers to get hurt whilst using their tools!
You can see all Bulldog’s cutting tools here: http://www.bulldogtools.co.uk/products/gardening/cutting-tools/