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Pruning tips from an expert

Pruning tips from an expert

Times Community News / Coastline Pilot / Life & Arts

 By Bryce Alderton •  Contact Reporter

FEBRUARY 4, 2016, 12:56 PM

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Gilbert Briseño has made a living by landscaping yards throughout Southern California, but on Saturday morning he volunteered a few hours to teach Laguna Beach residents how to make the perfect cut.

The South Laguna Community Garden Park committee invited Briseño to teach a class on pruning, using an Aleppo pine that sits on the edge of the Eagle Rock Way property as the primary test subject.

Experts in different areas lead classes periodically at the garden. Committee member Ann Christoph invited Briseño, 71, owner of Briseño Landscape, for a second time to discuss pruning, a detailed method of trimming excess branches of trees or shrubs so the plant grows even stronger.

“He is the person I always go to and recommend to do [pruning],” said Christoph, a landscape architect. “I trust him. He is knowledgeable.”

Holding a pole pruner, Briseño, 71, and his assistant Roberto Peña, 24, demonstrated where to slice branches for the tree’s optimal health.

Peña scurried up the trunk into the center of the tree and began cutting away excess foliage. “Do not cut straight,” Briseño said. “Cut at an angle. [The branch] needs a collar to heal.”

A proper cut begins just outside the area where the branch attaches to the stem, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A gardener should not cut too far away from the stem, however, or else a stub could form and branch tissue could die.

Briseño cautioned the seven guests not to cut too much from a tree. Otherwise foliage grows back too quickly and in bunches.

The biggest mistake people make is topping trees, a horizontal clear-cutting of branches and leaves, Briseño said.

“The tree grows [back] funny and doesn’t heal properly,” Briseño said.

Pruning is not for every tree, Briseño said. Avocado trees should not be pruned because they could get a sunburn and die, he said.

He also noted that pruning can be done at any time of the year but that it’s better to trim in winter so the tree doesn’t grow back as fast.

Laguna Beach resident Michael Ouimette said he came to the class with an open mind, even though he didn’t have a particular pruning need for his yard.

“When I come to these [classes], I pick up one or two things I did not know,” said Ouimette, a garden committee member.

In a follow-up email, Christoph explained Briseño’s beginnings in Laguna.

Briseño moved from Puerto Vallarta to Southern California in 1961 and worked various jobs. A few years later, he found out local landscape architect Fred Lang was looking for help, she said.

Lang, for whom Lang Park in Laguna is named, hired Briseño to remove patches of Bermuda grass for an Emerald Bay homeowner. Lang regularly hired Bob Lane do perform pruning duties, but when Lane fell ill with cancer, he asked Briseño if he would like to learn pruning.

Briseño eventually grew his client list and started his own company in 1973. Briseño’s clients include South Coast Plaza, the Scudder house at Victoria Beach, the Ranch at Laguna Beach and the Huntington Beach Tree Society.



Garden fundraising update

The South Laguna Civic Assn., which sponsors the garden, has raised $172,000 in an effort to purchase a quarter-acre parcel at Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway.

Residents tend 53 raised-bed plots, growing a variety of produce throughout the year. Saturday’s crop included lettuces, kale, chard and herbs such as parsley.

Two years ago, the City Council pledged $250,000 toward an eventual land buy, with a condition that the association raise its share of the purchase price. The current owner paid $1.2 million for the property, Christoph said.

Tax-deductible donations can be submitted through the garden park website,

Copyright © 2016, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot


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