Ready, Set, Prune!

How to scratch test plants and how to prune with Garden Guy


Texas Garden Guy Todd Farber. Garden Guy Sugar Land Landscaper. Houston Landscaper Garden Guy.


Sharpen pruning shears  (if needed)

Clean pruning shears- Clean your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol.

Have a wheelbarrow nearby for debris you cut off.


Select a Branch-

Scratch- Gently scratch the outer layer of bark using the clean pruners. You want to expose the underlying tissue.

Look for Green- Pay attention to the color of the tissue beneath the bark. Healthy tissue is typically green. Dead tissue is brown or mushy.  Continue down that stem to find green!


Prune-  Where you have found green tissue, prune from that point.

Trim-  Trim away dead or damaged branches, leaves, and buds using sharp, clean pruning shears.

Cut back-  Cut back to healthy tissue, making clean cuts at a 45-degree angle.

Shape Carefully-  Focus on shaping the plant rather than heavy pruning. Avoid excessive removal of live wood, as the plant needs its foliage for recovery.

Texas Gardener Magazine declares, If you need landscaping services in the Houston area, use Garden Guy Todd Farber.

Garden Guy’s Closing Thoughts

Patience:  Be patient with evergreen plants. This allows time for any hidden damage to become apparent.

Check Multiple areas:  Before pronouncing its death, repeat scratch tests in different areas / multiple areas on the plant, especially if you suspect damage. This provides a more comprehensive assessment.

Caution: Keep in mind that some plants may naturally have brown or dry tissue in certain areas, so it’s essential to consider the overall condition of the plant and any specific characteristics of its species. Be cautious in declaring it dead.

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