The 5 Best Pruning Books Will Help You Prune Like a Pro!

Cheryl Spencer, certified gardener Inside: Discover the best pruning books to include in your garden library.


Pruning is one of the most essential and yet subtle skills for a gardener to master.

Because there’s more to it than cutting off branches that look diseased or dead…

…Even small mistakes can have big consequences, and you don’t want your garden to look like Charlie Brown’s tree after he goes to town on it with an ax.

So, having a good pruning book (or two) that covers the plants in your garden is essential.

  • Pruning helps keep your plants looking tidy and well-groomed. 
  • It can also improve the health of your plants, depending on the reasons for pruning. 
  • And every tree and bush is pruned differently. 

Keep reading to discover my picks for the best books about pruning!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking one of my links. I only link to products I use and recommend.
 
gardener holding red pruners, pruning plants
Having a good pruning book (or two!) will help you avoid common pruning mistakes.

The best pruning book for beginners

The Pruning Answer Book

If you’re new to pruning, you’ll find yourself wondering things like: 

  • When’s the right time to trim my hydrangea? 
  • How much should I cut off? 
  • What’s the difference between thinning and pinching

This book answers these questions and many more that you probably have. 

And the book follows a question and answer format that beginning gardeners will love…

…The question is presented and then answered in an easy-to-understand way.

Which makes it perfect for gardeners who are new to trimming, shearing, and deadheading bushes, trees, and other garden plants.

  • With clear instructions, detailed illustrations, and expert advice, The Pruning Answer Book has all the information you need to maintain healthy plants in your garden.
  • The basic pruning techniques are illustrated with easy-to-understand drawings, so you don’t mistakenly hack off any key branches.
  • It includes detailed descriptions of how plants grow and respond to pruning cuts and how to care for various plants. 

And it’s written in a way that beginners can easily understand but doesn’t leave out necessary details.

The book is organized by type of plant, so you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly.

And since you can easily carry it with you while gardening, it makes caring for your bushes, trees, and plants that much easier.

The Pruning Answer Book will have you clipping and trimming like a pro in no time!

The Pruning Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask (Answer Book (Storey))
Buy on Amazon

The best pruning books to take your garden and pruning skills to the next level

The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook by Penelope O'Sullivan

Do you have trees or shrubs in your yard or want to add more?

This guide provides a detailed step-by-step process to choose the right ones and make sure they stay healthy and beautiful. 

  • There’s no need for a green thumb or design experience because you’ll learn how to add texture and shape to your garden with trees and shrubs. 
  • The book begins with an explanation of landscape design and how to choose the best plants for your garden.
  • O’Sullivan helps you answer many important questions regarding plant selection and landscape design, including some you probably haven’t thought of.
  • She suggests different ways to learn what’s likely to succeed in your yard and covers what you’ll need to know before making significant changes to your landscape.

And The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook includes more than 350 detailed plant profiles and discusses the best cultivars of deciduous shrubs, conifers, ornamental trees, and more. 

Even though reference guides like this can become out-of-date because new cultivars are introduced every year, this list is an excellent starting point.

If you’re looking for help with selecting new trees and shrubs for your garden and caring for them after you get them home, this will quickly become one of your favorite gardening books!

The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook: The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting, and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants
Buy on Amazon

Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning: What, When, Where, and How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden by Cass Turnbull

This isn’t your typical pruning guide. 

There are no photos or color images, just hand-drawn illustrations.

You get thorough, practical, and sound advice on pruning techniques and what to do when.

Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning covers 160 different species – more than many books – so you should be able to prune whatever’s growing in your yard. 

The book starts with a comprehensive overview of the basics: heading cuts (non-selective and selective) and basic thinning cuts. 

And the chapter on selective pruning techniques is worth the price of admission. Turnbull covers how much to prune, plant growth habits, and mature size versus ultimate size.

As you move through the book, you’ll learn that a plant’s growth habit guides how and when to prune it. 

  • She starts with a thorough discussion of the general growth habit of five plant types.
  • She follows that with long lists of plants within each genre. 
  • There you’ll find specific information on how a given plant grows, how to prune it, and how it will respond.

Beginning pruners will probably want to have another book on hand that has photos showing different techniques.

But despite the lack of photos, the book will leave you enlightened, well-informed, and a lot more confident when pruning.

Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning, 3rd Edition: What, When, Where, and How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden
Buy on Amazon

The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated, by Lee Reich

As a gardener, I know all too well how tempting it is to cut back the plants in your garden that no longer look their best. 

But you may not realize just how crucial proper pruning techniques are to make sure they continue to look great!

  • Every time you trim any plant, whether it’s a houseplant, shade tree, or a bonsai, it’s important to use the correct techniques. 
  • Author Lee Reich shares all of his secrets in this book, so you always make the right cut every time.
  • And whether you’re a professional gardener, an avid green thumb, or just getting started, this book will give you everything you need to know.

The Pruning Book includes all the information you need to ensure your plants are healthy, what tools to use and the best time to trim your plants.

It’s written in an easy-to-understand style and takes the mystery out of pruning, even for beginners.

It also includes many photos and diagrams to make it easier to visualize how and where to make the cuts.

If you’re looking for a reliable guide that’ll help you get through almost any pruning task, this is the perfect book for you!

The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated
Buy on Amazon

The best pruning book for fruit tree growers

How to Prune Fruit Trees, by R. Sanford Martin

Want to maximize your orchard production?

You’ll need to prune your trees.

But before you pick up a hand pruner or saw, you must learn how.

Proper pruning will set you up for a bumper crop and year-round growing success – whether you grow apples, plums, pomegranates, or any of the over 40 varieties of fruit trees addressed in How to Prune Fruit Trees.

Inside you’ll find detailed advice and instructions with sketches showing where to prune and what to look for as you decide where to cut. 

After a short description of each type of tree, you’ll find a pruning diagram. 

The helpful illustrations show how to prune trees over the years to ensure a large crop and maintain good tree health.

You’ll learn how to deal with roots, side shoots, sub-laterals, standards, cordon trees, and various aspects of fruit tree maintenance.

  • It also includes instructions all new growers will find helpful for developing a young tree when you first get it home from the nursery. 
  • You’ll learn how the initial pruning will set the stage for future fruit development. 
  • Near the end of the book, you’ll learn about summer vs. winter (or dormant) pruning, espalier, and more. 

Small enough to carry around the orchard, this book will help you successfully trim your trees every year, and it should be a part of any library for both experienced or beginning gardeners.

If you want concise and easy-to-understand information, this book is for you!

👉 Note that this book is for U.S. growers. Some of the advice isn’t applicable outside the U.S.

A better choice would be the RHS Pruning and Training Guide.

How to Prune Fruit Trees, Twentieth Edition
Buy on Amazon

Share your pick for best pruning book

Did I miss any great pruning books?

What do YOU think is the best pruning book? Let me know in a comment below!

Hi!  I’m  Cheryl. Cheryl Spencer

I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it.

I’ll show you how easy it can be to have a garden that fits into your lifestyle, wows your neighbors, and makes your family say “more veggies, please!”


Cheryl Spencer, certified gardener Hi, I’m Cheryl.
I’m a certified gardener, bird lover, and spreadsheet enthusiast. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. I teach online gardening courses and write articles that help you save time and money in your garden. Join my mailing list, and as a bonus, you’ll get a helpful checklist that’ll tell you what to do in your garden right now.

5 thoughts on “The 5 Best Pruning Books Will Help You Prune Like a Pro!”

  1. I am always looking for the best pruning books to help me find new ways to manage my garden. These books are all highly rated and come from different points of view. I can’t wait to try one of these books and see what new ideas I can come up with for my garden!

    1. Hi Alexandra!

      I’m glad you found some great new reads that you can use to improve your gardening skills.

  2. I have a huge garden and a lot of trees and shrubs. I’ve been looking for a book that will show me how to properly trim each of them to increase their health and growth. I just saw this list of the best pruning books and I can’t wait to try them out.

  3. I love gardening and I’m always looking for ways to expand my knowledge and learn some new techniques. I was very excited to learn about a list of the best pruning books and I love that these books are designed to help me create the best garden I can. I will definitely have to try one of these pruning books soon.

  4. I’m a writer and I like to write about gardening. I recently got into pruning trees and shrubs, and now I want to learn more about it. These books are great for helping me learn how to take care of my plants!

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