Focus on the future for proper tree pruning

May 19, 2017

“Take care of your tools, and they will take care of your trees,” says Les Finley, Certified Arborist recently retired from the City of Las Cruces. “Don’t stress the tools or yourself when pruning, clean and oil your tools when you are done, and they will serve you well.”

When Les Finley appears on the scene to provide a tree pruning demonstration, he comes armed - with five specific tools:

● Bypass hand sheers for small detailed cuts;

● Loppers for larger cuts up to ¾-inch branches;

● Two pruning saws – one smaller folding saw that’s easy to carry, and a larger saw for bigger jobs;

● Eye protection

Finley stresses, “People are injured when pruning trees. Thorns are especially problematic, and eye protection is critical.” He adds, “The biggest mistakes home gardeners make when pruning trees are 1) they don’t pay attention to the natural form of the trees; and 2) they don’t take care of their tools.”

Finley takes care of his tools, cleaning them with rubbing alcohol as he goes from tree to tree, and lubricating with a little 3-in-1 machine oil before putting them away. But let’s go back to the rubbing alcohol. “It’s critical to sterilize the tools between cuts,” he says. “Otherwise you can spread infection – viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms –from tree to tree.” Who knew!

Finley has many other tips on exactly when and how to prune branches to ensure quick wound healing of your trees. You are invited to meet Les Finley and see him in action at the Thursday, May 25th Lush and Lean workshop sponsored by Las Cruces Utilities, which is free and open to the public. NEW LOCATION: This final presentation of 2017 is at the Lush and Lean Garden on Spruce and N. Campo Street, north of the Police Department, across the parking lot from the Branigan Library. The workshop is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. See the complete list of speakers and Lush and Lean dates at or (you don’t need a Facebook account to view this page).

You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.