Learn How to Prune like a Pro! Pruning 101

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Pruning is a fun garden winds replacement canopy for the windsor gazebo standard 350 beige_700032 task but it can be daunting to get started with. For some people it is the gardening version of public speaking ? terrifying! Fear the secateurs no more, my friends. We are breaking down pruning to the basics so that you have the skills to prune like a pro. Pruning 101 How to Prune Like a Pro This is the first in a series of articles I?m writing to help your plants thrive with supportive pruning. Be sure to to get updates on the latest posts in this series. Here is what we have so far:

Reasons for Pruning

First, let?s start with reasons why you should prune and one big reason not to.

Good Reasons to Prune

  • To improve the health and vigor of plants
  • To encourage fruit and flower production
  • To modify shape, or direct growth
  • For safety reasons, for instance removing branches that could cause damage to structures and buildings and to avoid conflict with powerlines

Bad Reasons to Prune

To control the size or height of a plant. A better option is to thin a tree and help to shape it rather than topping a tree or fighting a plant when it?s trying to reach its mature size. See more in Supporting the Structure below.

Beautiful tree form (Pruning 101)

The Four Ds

The first rule of pruning is to follow the Four Ds. This means that you can safely prune anything on a plant that is dead, diseased, dying, or damaged. Even more, you SHOULD prune for the following reasons. Branches that fall into these categories are causing more stress to the plant left attached than if they are pruned off. Removing the Four Ds helps with the overall health of the plant. Even if removing those branches will look unsightly or unappealing, it?s better to prune them and allow the plant to repair without having to spend energy on healing.Branch structure (Pruning 101)

Supporting the Structure

Despite what many people do in their own gardens, . If you have a tree that is growing too large for the space it was allocated, then you have the wrong tree! The best course of action is to either consider replacing it or living with it. Topping a tree damages the overall shape of the tree, while encouraging the tree to send out a new leader to continue reaching its mature height. It also creates weak points in the tree which make it more susceptible to breakage.Please don't ever do this to a tree (pruning 101)

If you have a tree that is too large for the area that is planted you can always thin out the tree by removing some of the larger branches on the inside, creating a more airy and spacious look that may solve your problem. While this won?t affect the overall height of the tree, it could remove enough density that the tree fits into the allocated space better.

Follow the Lines

The most unappealing (and often pitiful) pruning is when a branch is cut to create a stub. Following the lines of the branches means noticing the natural flow and structure of the plant as it grows from the base or trunk and following that line out towards the end.Say no to stubs and more tips on pruning 101

There are two types of pruning cuts: heading cuts and thinning cuts. Heading involves cutting off part of branch to create a stronger branch and a larger number of smaller offshoots coming from that branch. Thinning removes a branch at its point of origin, which can be at the main trunk, a side branch, or even right to the ground.thinning vs heading cuts

Heading cuts stimulate new growth and thinning cuts prevent new growth.

If you?re looking to remove the branch but would like another branch to grow in its place, then cut the branch just above a bud. This bud will produce a new branch. If you want to remove the branch and not have regrowth, then cut the branch at the branch collar and do not leave any visible buds.Golden Fall Foliage (Pruning 101)


Obviously there are some exceptions to this rule like , , or fruit-tree pruning. Creating unnatural shapes in these circumstances can be done for aesthetics or to increase fruit production. A tree that has been pruned to take on an unnatural shape requires much more ongoing care and maintenance which I will write about in a subsequent article. For the majority of your home garden pruning needs, stick to the 4 Ds and aim for a natural shape and you have the tools to get started!

Garden Therapy Back Yard Play Garden Tour Espalier apple

Save the Trees

If you still aren?t convinced that supportive pruning is best for your garden and your trees, please head over to and read a host of brilliant and informative articles on pruning. I had the pleasure of meeting the late Cass Turnbull, Plant Amnesty President and Founder, at the . I ended up giggling and fawning like a crazed fan because I whole-heartedly support their efforts to ?end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.? Visit Plant Amnesty .

For even more information on pruning, check out these posts:





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This sweet-sounding concoction is not a confection; it?s an herbal recipe for soft and shiny hair! Lavender works to strengthen and marshmallow root coats hair while soothing scalp dryness and inflammation. It has a gentle and pleasant aroma that will make this homemade conditioner your new favourite hair care recipe.

Lavender and Marshmallow Root Homemade Conditioner Recipe for Dry Hair

Homemade Conditioner and Lotions

Homemade conditioner is easier to make than you might think. When I first started making my own herbal skin and hair care, I was a bit intimidated by making lotions and conditioner. It all seemed to be a bit too complex and I feared that I wouldn?t get the technique quite right. After taking some beginner, then advanced classes, I realized that it?s not only a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it, but that you can make really high quality products for wayyyyy less money than something similar would cost to buy.

If you are a soap maker, then you know that soap making is expensive. And if you are not a soap maker, you have certainly seen the price tag on a bar of artisanal soap. Quality ingredients come with a price tag and the labour (and love) that goes into making soap is quite involved as well.

But lotions, well, that?s a whole different story. A lotion is mostly water. The little bit of oil, emulsifying wax, and other ingredients you use are so small that they barely add up. And yet the final lotion or conditioner is so rich and luxurious, you would think that so much more went into the recipe than it did.

Lavender + Marshmallow Root Homemade Conditioner Recipe

I?m sometimes surprised to hear that not everyone uses conditioner. I would be lost in a rat?s nest of tangles and frizzy hair without it! Hair conditioner has that wonderful nourishing ability to coat each strand of hair so that it can easily be detangled while reducing split ends and nourishing dry hair.

Marshmallow root is a mucilaginous herb that is often used on its own as a natural hair conditioner. In this recipe, I have used prepared marshmallow root tea to replace part of the water in the conditioner. This recipe is great from dry hair that needs a moisture treatment. Use the conditioner for a few weeks, then switch it for another recipe (like this Rosemary one) when hair is repaired.

Dried Lavender flowers and Marshmallow Root

If this is your first time making lotion or conditioner, please first read to read about the ingredients, the three phases, and see the step-by-step photos of how it is done.


  • or other heatproof containers
  • (to sterilize equipment and tools)

Organic Lavender Essential Oil and Marshmallow root Ingredients

Makes 200g

Aqueous Phase Ingredients

  • 92 g distilled water
  • 60 g infusion
  • 4 g 

Oil Phase Ingredients

  • 20 g 
  • 10 g 
  • 6 g 

Cool Phase Ingredients

  • 4 g 
  • 4 g (Vitamin B5)
  • 20 drops

Make it!

The day before: prepare the marshmallow infusion by filling a 250ml / 1 cup mason jar with cut and sifted marshmallow root and fill the rest of the jar with lukewarm water. Add a lid and steep overnight. In the morning, strain out the root and use the liquid for lotion.

Marshmallow root infusion in a mason jar

  1. Sterilize all of your equipment and workspace with alcohol.
  2. Use a kitchen scale to weigh the oil ingredients in a heatproof container and weigh the water ingredients in another heatproof container.
  3. Create a double boiler and heat both the oil ingredients and the water ingredients to 160 degrees F.
  4. Keep both the water ingredients and oil ingredients at 160 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl, add the oil ingredients first and then pour in the water ingredients.
  6. Use an electric mixer to whip the ingredients in a large bowl.
  7. Once the ingredients have reached 80 degrees, you can add the cool phase ingredients.
  8. Continue mixing your conditioner until it?s thick and fluffy.
  9. Add the conditioner into a sterilized container with a pump.

How to Make Homemade Herbal Hair Conditioner

More Lotions, Creams, and Conditioners to Try!

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Having just the right furniture for a small space can make all the difference. This DIY cedar outdoor dining table is long and thin to fit as many people in a small space is possible. The added feature of a removable planter makes it so that the table can be decorated with live plants, be used as an inset trough for condiments and drinks, or can be removed and covered with a panel to maximize table space.

Cedar Outdoor Dining Table DIY Building Plans

Deck Out Your Deck with these ideas

Cedar Outdoor Dining Table Building Plans

I have been meaning to share the building plans for the table since the table was built two years ago, but as it turns out, the project was very complex, much too complex to share in a blog post. It took a while but I have finally extracted the woodworking brilliance that came up with this table into a document, which with diagrams and photos is 25 pages long! If you would like the exact instructions for the table, the plans are available as a downloadable PDF.

If you have table plans already and are pretty handy, read on some of the important steps in customizing the table to have a removable insert and how we have been using it. I?ll also share a few tips on choosing the right wood and finish for an outdoor table, as well as how to choose plants for the table insert.

The dining table is meant to be left outdoors all season long on the uncovered deck so the wood needs to be durable and long-lasting. For affordability, durability, and beauty we chose to use 5/4? cedar deck boards. As these are the visual centerpiece of the dining table we hunted for boards that had an interesting grain, pattern, color, or knots.

Natural spar varathane for cedar table finish

Picking Cedar Lumber for Building an Outdoor Dining Table

Cedar can have beautiful hues with natural stripes in beige to brown with gold and pink highlights. Naturally weathered and unfinished cedar will, eventually turn gray. For this patio table, we wanted to try and keep the warm honey color variations in the wood so after the table was completed it was treated with a clear varathane product. This maintains the color while protecting the table from water damage.

Since you are making furniture, you will want to ensure take the time to pick lumber that is straight and flat. Leave behind any that is bowed, cupped, or twisted.

Once you get the lumber home, be sure to dry out the lumber. If it was stored outside or is brand new stock, there is a good chance that it?s a bit damp. If you build a table with damp lumber, the table could crack when it dries and shrinks. To dry it, stack the lumber with spacers in between to allow air flow to dry the stock. Depending on how wet it is, give it about a week before you start building.Cedar Outdoor Dining Table without planter insert

Customizing the Planter Insert

The fun part of this project was the inclusion of the planter in the center. The table was designed so that it is seven boards wide with a center panel being removable. When a center panel is in place it looks like it is one cohesive tabletop. When the center panel is removed, there is a place for a long center trough. Of course, as a garden nerd, the center trough was always meant to be a planter. But it could also be used for other purposes: to hold a variety of condiments for a BBQ party or could even be filled with ice and act as a center cooler to keep wine beer and other drinks cool.

Cedar Outdoor Dining Table with removable planter insert

If you choose to use a center trough for these reasons, then it?s worth protecting the wood with spar varnish. As a planter, you would not use varnish, especially if you are planting herbs or edible plants.

I designed the insert to be unfinished cedar with the inclusion of some drainage holes. To prevent soil from dropping through the holes, I lined the inside of the planter with a piece of landscape fabric.

Gorgeous Deck Makeover Project

In the first year I planted the trough with low growing ornamental herbs. The center planter is just the perfect size to hold eleven 4? square pots so I purchased eleven different herbs such as lemon thyme, variegated thyme, chives, Cuban oregano, lemon oregano, purple sage, and variegated sage. I alternated the plants so that I had a nice mix of different leaf colors, shapes, and fragrances.

Deck Makeover Ideas

Each one of these plants grew well over the season, and at the end of the season they were removed and planted in the garden. It was fun to have herbs to clip as garnishes for meals, to enjoy their fragrance as we dined, and to watch the buzzing bees that came to visit the flowers that bloomed.

Last year I planted small space pollinator attracting flowers in the trough but struggled to keep them performing well. The space was simply too shallow to hold enough water for the annual flowers to produce well. The table is on a hot sunny so facing deck that gets blistering, direct sun all summer. These conditions were just too drastic for annual flowers. While the herbs from the previous year did need to be watered every day, I chose drought-tolerant, sun loving herbs. The annual flowers were just too delicate for such harsh conditions.

Outdoor table Insert Planted with Succulents

This year, I?ve decided to plant a variety of for an even more low maintenance and low water solution. Using a variety of hardy Sedum, Echeveria, Haworthia, and Crassula, I can get a low growing and low maintenance display.

Which do you prefer? Leave me a comment on which you like better (herbs or succulents) and please leave suggestions for what I should plant next year! I love switching it up every year and trying new ideas.

More DIY Building Projects

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