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Root Pruning Tools

Posted by clairecathy 10 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 22, 10 at 12:54

From what I've read so far, it seems I will need both pruning shears and also a saw to do root pruning. Can anyone recommend good kinds/brands to look at for these two tools? Also, if there are tools that work well for not-strong hands, that info would be especially appreciated. :)

Claire


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Root Pruning Tools

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 22, 10 at 16:18

Photobucket

These are the tools I use for repotting/working on roots. I also use a tub or two and a hose.

From the top, then left to right you'll see a rayon mop head ans one of the strands I use for wicks. The octagonal thing is a turntable I made for working on trees - pruning and wiring, mostly. Bottom left is a rubber mallet. I use it to tap on the sides of containers to help settle the gritty mix around roots when I repot. Next is a folding pruning saw. It's a quality saw (Bahco brand - Swedish) and the blades can be replaced. A nice feature because you can keep a very sharp blade for pruning and use another for root work, I have 2 saws, so I don't have to switch blades all the time. The blades come VERY sharp and you'll be amazed at how fast it cuts (on the pull stroke). The next tool is a 3-pronged root rake. It also comes in 2-prongs. I use this on almost every tree to rake out the soil t6hat's easy to remove and to straighten roots. It's not a necessity, but it makes things easier. The next tool is a root hook. It is used to straighten stubborn roots that are hooked or are growing back toward the center of the root mass so you can get at the soil they are preventing you from removing. Above it is a Dramm Foggit nozzle. I attach it to a hose with a shut-off and use it to blast away soil as I work. It also keeps roots moist as you work - very important. The next tool is a homemade root pick that I made from a nylon tool (called a glazing stick) made to help install windows and windshields in the gaskets that hold them in place in heavy equipment. You'll need a root pick of some sort. Next is a potsickle ;o) for cutting plants out of pots. You slide it between the pot wall & the roots. It's also handy for removing plants from pots that have an opening smaller than the pot diameter. Next is another root pick you can make by sharpening a 1/4 or 5/16" dowel in a pencil sharpener. The silver tool on the far right is a root cutter. What it does is self explanatory. A stout pair of scissors or a sharp set of pruners is what you'll likely use in this tools stead. The black tool on the towel is a little bonsai trowel. I use it to push soil around & level it, as well as tamp it down. That's about it, I guess. ;o)

Al


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Al,

Wow! :)

This was really an eye-opener for me. Not just because of the array of tools, but the many things they are needed for. For one thing, I never realized it would be good to tap the planter get the soil settled in or necessary to tamp it down. Is the tamp-down only at the end of the job or do you tamp as you go? Lightly?

The other surprise for me was that you can straighten tree roots. I had envisioned them all quite hard and permanently rounded or twisted. But if some are soft enough to straighten, why wouldn't it be easy to just pull them out with your hands?

Re: the Bahco saw, is the one for "hard or dry" wood for the roots and the "green wood" blade for branches? http://www.bahcostore.com/folding-saws

It will be a few months before I attack this project (my root-bound fig still in its 5 gallon nursery container) , but I like to prepare ahead so I have time to figure everything out and get it as right as I can manage. Is there a particular link you recommend for root pruning?

As always, I'm so grateful for your help.

Claire


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

I had a tooth extracted today - not a root-canal, per se....but your tools are oddly familiar, Al... ;)

I'm especially fond of your sickle!


Josh


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Josh,
I'm sorry to hear that... I hope your doing O.K. ;)
I was thinking the one on the right looked kinda scary. lol..

Al,
Thanks for that great photo! It really helps to "see" what we need.
I'm going to print it. :)

JoJo


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 22, 10 at 18:25

I didn't mean to leave the impression you NEED all these various tools to do root work. You can get by with a root pick and a pair of scissors for small trees. You can also use other tools you have on hand in place of some of the specialized tools - no big deal. I repot more than 150 trees each spring/summer, so for me it's helpful to have tools that help save time.

"Is the tamp-down only at the end of the job or do you tamp as you go? Lightly?"

I usually add an inch or two of soil at a time & work it into the roots with the root pick. When I'm done, I tap the sides of the pot to further settle the soil, then top off with more soil & trowel/tamp it flat. You really can't compress the gritty mix much, so it doesn't matter if you tamp firmly or lightly. The soil will settle further as you water.

I only buy the 396-JT blades.

For root pruning, you can follow this embedded link and scroll down to the 2 posts I made on Apr 12. I have another thread prepared for when that thread tops out at 150 posts that will include root pruning and repotting in the original post, but it will essentially be the same info I posted on Apr 12. Feel free to ask questions.

Al


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RE: Rootwork Tools

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 22, 10 at 18:33

Looks like I was typing away (and tending the soup) while you guys were posting - and I didn't see your posts. ;o) I hope you're feeling ok, Josh. Glad to be of service, JJ. ;o)

Al


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Al,

When I follow the link I can't see any posts. Am I just being dense here?

Claire


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

It's not you Claire :)

looks like GW home page. :)

JoJo


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

What are you repotting? House plants? I root prune using pruning shears. Lay the plant on its side and start cutting. I cut away about 1/3 and pull the roots down with my hands. Ficus or other large houseplants do not necessarily have large woody roots.

BTW, I only root prune in the spring unless its an emergency. Plants slow down growth in winter.

What are you repotting and how big are the trees?

Jane


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 22, 10 at 20:16

Sorry, Claire. Try the link below.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Click me. He's daft but I know what I'm doing!


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Much Better. ;)

Daft is easily forgiven.. ;)

Have a good night all..
JJ


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Jane,

"What are you repotting and how big are the trees?"

Just the fig I mentioned before.

Claire


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Thanks for the encouragement, JoJo and Al!
I feel pretty bad...but in a good way. I'm taking the pain pills one at a time still ;)
On the bright side, I'm only out a couple thousand dollars.
I could have lost my jaw! Then who would read Macbeth to the Seniors?


Josh


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

I don't know which post. There are a few and I don't see anything about what you are working on.

Jane


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Nov 22, 10 at 17:43

a few posts up


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Yep, here it is:

"It will be a few months before I attack this project (my root-bound fig still in its 5 gallon nursery container)"


Josh


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Thanks Josh,
it was late, I forgot that part of the quote. ;)

I guess I need to get some tools. :)

I have 5 trees I need to do if they ever drop leaves, lol.
Hope your doing better today.

JoJo


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

This post comes at a great time! My adult children were just asking me what's on my "wish list?"


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

There you go!
Print it and give it to them. ;)

My birthday is comming up, I may just treat myself. lol!

JoJo


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Al,

That link was great! I feel prepared now for the work ahead ... even though this news was a bit daunting: "For instance, many of my pines can go 3-5 years between repots, but the edible figs in large pots, mulberry too, have roots leaping out of every container orifice by late summer, even though they're repotted yearly."

And I have a question as to how the following advice might apply to my fig: "it's still a good thing to limit the number of fruit allowed to mature, or force the tree to bear alternately. Of course this may vary. For instance, if you were growing mulberry, I wouldn't worry about it too much, but with the pomes, and many of the trees with larger fruits, it is a sound management practice."

Also, does "alternately" mean every other year you snip away beginning fruit buds?

Claire


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 24, 10 at 9:16

I always approach woody plants in containers with the idea I should worry first about vitality, then about fruit/flower numbers.

Hardy figs are possessed of extreme inherent genetic vigor, so allowing them to fruit as they will with no interference from you will not have a noticeable effect on their vitality; but allowing many other fruit trees to bear annually can leave them weakened. Alternately does mean 'every other year'. Some trees naturally maintain an alternate cycle, bearing heavily one year and showing light fruit set the next. Other plants, because of the natural stress that goes along with container culture, will benefit from our limiting the numbers of fruit the are allowed to bear.

Al


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

Al,

Oh, good news about figs! :) I'd hate to go a year without eating them, and will happily root prune every year to get them. Yum.

Thanks,

Claire


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RE: Root Pruning Tools

I don't think I could get involved in root pruning. After looking at Al's tool display, it reminds me too much of one of my favorite movies (Marathon Man). "Is it safe?"


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