Heading and Thinning Pruning Cuts

Based in Pennsylvania, Brendan Wetzel is the owner and president of the Yardley Landscaping and Paving Company. Brendan Wetzel and his team handle residential and corporate landscaping work, such as shrub and tree pruning, in and around Bucks County.

Prniung trees, shrubs, and other plants is often overlooked in yard care. Mastering different pruning techniques seems difficult for many home gardeners.

Generally, there are two types of pruning cuts: heading and thinning. These cuts are used in different situations.

Heading cuts that stimulate growth are made on shoots or limbs that are too weak or small to grow offshoots. Too many weak limbs create a sparse appearance since offshoots add thickness to the plant.

To make heading cuts, look for healthy buds on the plant and cut at a 45-degree angle just past the healthy buds. New growth will sprout in the direction that the healthy buds are pointing, so heading cuts must be pointed away from the buds.

Thinning cuts that quell overgrowth are usually made where one limb meets another or where a limb meets the main stem. These cuts are made as close to the junction as possible to ensure that the plant maintains its natural shape and size. Generally, thinning cuts are used for aesthetic purposes.