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Essential Pruning for Gardeners

Taught by David Hurrion

So many people are scared of pruning their plants, but it lies at the heart of keeping your garden looking its best

Course Description

BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

If you want to get the best from your garden, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s Essential Pruning for Gardeners course, led by Associate Editor David Hurrion, is a must for anyone wanting to keep their plants in shape and get the best from your garden. It will show you the basic structure of trees, shrubs and fruit bushes, the best time to prune them and how to make the right cuts so you’ll master skills which no good gardener should be without. Lesson one looks at the stems, buds and leaves which make up plants and the fundamentals of where to cut them, as well as the tools you need for the job.

Having got these skills under your belt, you’ll apply them, in lesson two, to the hard pruning that’s essential for summer flowers, colourful winter stems and exotic foliage effects.

By lesson three you’ll be learning how to prune and cut back plants that flower in winter and spring, so they don’t outgrow their space and give the best blooms every year.

And the last lesson shows how you can take all the knowledge and skills you’ve learnt to apply to summer pruning which is essential for controlling vigorous plants, encouraging more flowers and giving you bumper crops of fruit.

Course outline

  • Making the basic cuts

    Discover how woody plants make their seasonal growth, the way pruning can be used to both promote and control this, where to make those all-important basic cuts and the essential tools for the job. Identify the structure of word plant stems and the way in which they growth during the course of the season. Indicate the leaf and bud arrangements on both deciduous and evergreen woody plants. Define the term ‘node’ and the potential growth from this point. Discover the benefits of pruning woody plants. Understand how pruning at different times of year influences the chemicals in the stems and thus the type of growth made in response. Identify the correct position to make pruning cuts on the stems of a woody plant. Correctly align secateurs to buds and cut at a suitable distance from them. Identify the basic equipment for regular pruning and the different cutting mechanisms. Understand the importance of sharp secateurs and pruning equipment. Maintain clean equipment for plant health and efficient pruning.
  • Hard pruning to promote strong growth

    Find out how to encourage vigorous growth and the type of plants that benefit from this treatment, discover the optimum time of year to undertake this pruning, and understand where and how to make the right cuts. Understand the growing situations where vigorous stem growth is required. Outline what is meant by ‘hard’ pruning. Identify trees and shrubs that require hard pruning to promote particular types of growth. Define the time of year (using knowledge from previous lesson) when such hard pruning is most effective. Understand the effects of hard pruning on deciduous and evergreen shrubs and how this effects timing. Identify a plant that has been previously hard pruned. Understand why winter- and spring-flowering shrubs and fruit would not be hard pruned, except for rejuvenation. Select a suitable point on the plant to prune to, observing any buds or nodes. Identify the type of tissues that are to be cut. Choose an appropriate pruning tool with which to make the cut. Make clean, neat cuts that leave the plant tidy and well balanced. Identify the regrowth made by the plant by midsummer. Distinguish between the different parts of the stem on a summer-flowering plant, a plant grown for foliage and one grown for winter stem colour. Understand the importance of thinning out subsequent re-growth. Identifying that this can also be used to rejuvenate old, overgrown shrubs of all types, and indicating the best time of year for this.
  • Pruning out the oldest flowered stems

    Understand the benefits of pruning out the oldest flowered growth and identify which plants are pruned in this way, identify how far back to make the cuts and remove other types of growth as appropriate. Discover the different ages and types of growth that can be observed on an established winter- or spring-flowering shrub. Understand that flowers are produced on sideshoots produced from stems made in previous seasons. Relate this to cycles of growth and the regular pruning that can be carried out. Name different types of shrubs that produce flowers in this way. Identify the reasons why leaving such plants unpruned might effect health and productivity. Discover the simple rule of thumb that determines the right time of year to prune any winter- or spring-flowering shrub and bush or cane fruit. Choosing appropriate tools to prune out old woody branches down to the base. Discover why remaining stems can be pruned to benefit the shape and health of the plant. Understanding the importance of monitoring regrowth to thin out congested shoots.
  • Controlling plant growth and increasing productivity

    Discover how summer pruning can be used for fruit and some ornamental plants, understand why it effects the way the plant grows and find out the additional benefits that can be gained from cutting and trimming plants at this time of year. Identify the current season’s growth and the elements of the stems that indicate this.
Trace through the main branches of the plant to identify the leading shoots. Observe the sideshoots that arise from the main stem. Identify flowering and fruit spurs by the arrangement of leaves and buds. Distinguish between the different states of growth by observation and touch. Use all of this to identify the point at which to prune back stems. Make pruning cuts at correct distance and angle above buds (as identified in lesson 1) to leave relevant shoots at appropriate length to promote different types of growth. Understand the importance of further thinning out excess shoots. Learn the benefits to health of certain plants from only pruning them in the summer. Discover how pruning back soft shoots can be beneficial to the health of plants in summer. Use this knowledge of summer pruning to inform the pruning of vigorous climbers, such as wisteria.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option

    Recommended

    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from David Hurrion

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 4 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 4 assignments marked by David Hurrion
    • Certificate of completion from David Hurrion
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
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    $299.00
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 4 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    $99.00

How it works

About David Hurrion

David has been growing plants for more than 40 years and worked in gardens and nurseries, growing on a range of different soils and in different regions of the UK. His extensive knowledge and practical experience of plants, crops and growing techniques is founded on a thorough botanical and scientific training. 
He has spent more than 20 years writing for and editing the nation’s crop of garden magazines and websites, most recently as Deputy and now Associate Editor for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. David has appeared on TV and radio, both as a regular contributor and an expert commentator, as well as on gardenersworld.com in many practical videos.
He has designed, built and planted show gardens and display stands at most of the major garden shows in the UK, including the world famous Chelsea Flower Show, and is now a Floral Judge for the Royal Horticultural Society. David is a popular figure in the horticultural world, well liked and respected for his knowledge by nurserymen, professional gardeners, journalists and the gardening public.
As a trained teacher, David has taught a huge diversity of subjects from botany, soil science and plant identification, to propagation, garden design and crop production, and from City & Guilds through to Degree level. He is also a popular speaker with local gardening groups and presents a range of courses and masterclasses at locations around the UK.

Frequently bought as part of this collection

  • BBC Gardeners' World Magazine Collection

    Master the entire subject and SAVE 15% when you buy this collection

    2 Courses • Taught by 1 Expert Tutor
    BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

    BBC Gardeners’ World is Britain’s biggest gardening brand, led by the flagship BBC2 programme for over 50 years. The magazine is the UK’s biggest-selling gardening title while gardenersworld.com is the country’s leading gardening website. Our award-winning editorial contains regular contributions from the top names in BBC gardening, delivering practical advice and inspiration.

    BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s Associate Editor, David Hurrion has been a regular contributor and expert commentator on both television and radio, with over 40 years gardening experience. David is a trained teacher and popular speaker with local gardening groups and presents a range of courses and masterclasses at locations around the UK.

    Learn more

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