Proper tools should be used to make a clean pruning cut and to minimize damaging plant tissue. If the plant tissue is crushed or torn it can leave the plant susceptible to disease and insect problems. In addition, more time will be needed by the plant to have tissues grow over the wound. Pruning tools should be the correct size for the job and be made of tempered steel that can hold a sharp edge. Making a pruning cut should be relatively easy when the correct size of tool is used. Hand pruners should be used to cut branches that are less than one-half inch in diameter. Lopping shears should be used for branches between one-half and 1 inch thick. A bow saw or pruning saw should be used to cut branches larger than 1 inch thick. Be sure to make a clean cut with the proper tool.
Sanitizing pruning tools
Pruning tools should be disinfected after each cut, under ideal circumstances, to avoid spreading diseases from plant to plant. At the very minimum disinfect pruning tools after finishing one plant but before beginning to prune the next plant. To sanitize tools, dip the cutting edge in a disinfectant solution such as denatured alcohol, methanol or diluted household bleach (1 part bleach plus 9 parts of water). An alternative is to spray the cutting blade with a disinfectant solution. When using bleach, make sure to apply a thin layer of oil to the blade before storing to avoid rusting of the tool.
Pruning paints and asphalt emulsions are not recommended for use on pruning cuts as they may actually seal in disease-causing organisms or promote rot.