Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to prune a razor sharp plant....

Yesterday I was out in my front yard to prune my Desert Spoon plants. This plant adds great texture to my landscape. Though honestly I didn't choose to plant it. The builders give us 3 landscape options for plants. We went with the option that gave us a Mesquite tree. Trying to weed or get trash that gets blown into the yard out from under it is dangerous work. You never come out of it with out getting tiny little cuts up and down your hands and arms. They are like paper cuts, but because they were done by a plant they itch and sting a bit more. Gloves help your hands but don't cover the rest of you.

Trim the underside of the plant like they do with palm trees or yucca plants. But how do you do this with out coming out bloody? It is high time we do something with ours. We don't have electric hedge trimmers that would probably make short work of it. What we have are long handled loppers and short hand pruners and some leather gloves. I am looking at these plants thinking how do people get in there with out getting shredded?

I put the rope around the plant at the point in which I wanted to prune it back to. You won't be able to slide the rope all the way in because it will get caught on the razor edges of the leaves. Get it far enough in so that when you tie the ends of rope together it will hold back the leaves you want to keep. You want to pull the rope tight enough that it gets all the leaves out of your way.

Next use your long handled loppers to clear a section of the leaves you want to remove. Loppers are not the best tool for this, but it is what we have. You are clearing an area that will allow you to easily get in to prune the rest with the smaller pruners.

Now that you have cleared a section get your smaller pruners. You will have an easier time of getting a good angle to trim all the remaining leaves off. Did I mention to put on knee pads or get a kneeling pad?

These plants are really low maintenance but they can get a bit ragged looking if you don't prune them back like this. It will also make weeding and picking up garbage that has been blown in your yard easier and less dangerous to your hands and arms. Also future pruning will be easier as well.

As I was working on this yesterday, I was thinking that there must be a lot of people like me in the southwest with similar plants that don't know how to prune them. I am sure that landscape and gardener contractors have tricks up their sleeves for this but most of us don't have all the time saving equipment they have invested in. If you are like me, you have other things that your money goes to and I like to do my own gardening. My family has always done their own gardening. Not because we couldn't afford to have some one come in and do it but because we like doing things with our hands. I come from a family that has green thumbs and a desire to grow things. We also tend to have a desire to see something we like and make it for ourselves.

My 4 year old choose to be out there with me to offer support. He was great! At first he wanted to help pick up the cut leaves. He quickly realized that picking one up by the tip was one thing and bringing it over to the garbage can and trying to lift it up and in (without getting stuck) was another. He decided that I should do it and be "VERY CAREFUL" while doing so. He went into the house to get me some water. Then stood by while eating a Popsicle I told him he could have. He is always helpful in the garden. He likes to help prune or at least help pick up the debris. What ever your out door project is, let your children be involved some how. Some jobs are not for them, but he was glad to go get me some water. He was glad when I gave him a piece of trash, that was under the plant, to throw out.

I thought I would share my new found how-to and maybe help some of you out.

Good Luck!!



Alison said...

For the record... when I looked at the 'before' picture, I thought it looked fine and wondered what you were going to do. I HAD NO IDEA!!! The after picture is awesome. I'm going to try this out... on my neighbor's plants... just for fun!

southern queen bee said...

Can't say that I have one of those plants here in bayou country. But enjoyed the post on how it is done. Looks like it could be painful if you don't know what you are doing.

Lucky Mom said...

I live in the same dry, barren climate as you although I've never given these plants much thought. We don't own any so I've never pondered how dangerous they can be. Yikes! Your close-up pics made me realize I like these much better from a distance - a safe distance. :)

Kat said...

Our plant didn't look too bad yet. Over the years the bottom section sitting on the ground will become completely brown. I have seen these in medians on some of our streets and many of them are looking tired because they have not been pruned.

You would do the same for a yucca plant, which looks nearly the same with out the razor edges. The yucca has a softer more friendly look.

I am glad you have enjoyed my post. Thank you for the great comments!!


Erica Lucci said...

Very helpful! I really appreciate the photos!

iowalass said...

I have book marked your article. I have the loppers, hand nippers and leather gloves. Having tried to trim this Desert Spoon, previously, with LOTS of painful cuts from their razor edges, I will try your solution with the rope. THANK YOU!!! My skin says thank you, also.