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Grounds maintenance crews spend time each fall pruning vegetation. “Detecting dead or damaged branches is easier when some leafy growth still exists, making fall a good time to prune many trees and shrubs,” according to plant experts at Corona, Calif.-based Corona Clipper, a manufacturer of pruning equipment and other gardening tools.

The experts caution: “However, don’t prune any spring-flowering specimens at this time—these trees and shrubs set their flower buds in the fall, so pruning now could diminish their flower displays next spring. Try using a long-reach pruner instead of climbing ladders to prune higher branches or uncomfortably stooping to prune lower ones.”

On the subject of equipment maintenance, it is important to keep cutting edges sharp. Managers should make sure their department’s pruning tools have blades that can be re-sharpened, and, if needed, keep a file handy to maintain a good cutting edge.

Landscapers should sharpen their department’s equipment often, making sure to maintain the blade’s original angle. Crews should keep a spare blade on hand when using saws with replaceable blades, or have permanent blades sharpened professionally. As a result, crews will do less damage when pruning, and plants will stay healthier.

According to Greg Sabala, director of marketing for Corona Clipper, having the right tool is the top priority. “Avoid so-called ‘bargain’ tools that lose their edges quickly and won’t stand up to hard use,” he told Sabala suggests looking for tools that offer affordable quality and a reputable guarantee.

For government agencies that have limited budgets for pruning equipment, Sabala suggested that they buy four basic types of tools: hand pruners, loppers, hedge shears and saws. “Each tool is available with varying features that you may want to add for different pruning jobs,” he said. “But, if you concentrate on getting good quality in each category, you’ll be able to do a better job season after season.”

The resources section of the Corona Clipper Web site has useful tipsheets on pruning and planting.