March 20, 2019

Heavy Pruning During Winter?

There is a common misconception that tree maintenance cannot or shouldn’t be done during the winter months. Between snow fall and cold temperatures, caring for trees from January to March is known to not be required.

In reality, winter and early spring are good times for heavy pruning services. In fact, some tree services, such as pruning fruit trees to maximize fruit production, should only be done while trees are dormant during winter.

During winter, trees and shrubs enter a state called dormancy. Leaves fall off and trees take a “rest” until warmer spring temperatures allow them to grow again. Doing tree work during this dormant period has many benefits and will maintain a healthy tree.

Tree Evaluation is Easier

Without a bunch of leaves covering the branches, proper pruning is easy. After the leaves have dropped in fall, it’s easier to see the structure of your trees and to identify dead or dangerous branches. Trained arborists can quickly tell whether or not a tree needs to be pruned.

Better Prepared for Spring

Late winter is a great time to prune, contain or rejuvenate overgrown shrubs and trees as they’ll be able to recover quickly in spring with new growth. This will also minimize the amount of time you’ll spend looking at a plant that looks like a bunch of sticks after proper pruning.

Less Stress on Trees

Winter pruning doesn't stimulate new growth that can be killed by cold weather, damaging and disfiguring the tree. This is also why fall pruning isn’t generally a good idea.

Additionally, research shows that pruning before buds break in spring leads to “optimum wound closure”, letting trees heal from pruning cuts before warmer weather brings out destructive insects and pathogens.

Improves Safety and Decrease Damage During Winter

Damaged, dead or dying trees can be dangerous in winter, particularly when we get storms that bring wind, ice or snow. Dormant pruning is done to remove any hazards before they can compromise the safety of your property and loved ones. It also rejuvenates weaker trees (thus making them safer) by removing dead and diseased wood.

It’s important to remember the difference between good pruning and bad pruning, especially during the winter months. Here are four common mistakes:

  • Avoid Topping — We understand that your tree is too tall so you will just take a little off the top, don’t. Topping immediately weakens a tree and sends it into shock repair mode typically resulting in an unappealing look.
  • Don’t Leave branch stubs — Stub cuts or not pruning back to the branch collar (nearly the trunk)—leave trees with partially amputated limbs that don’t heal properly.
  • Cutting it too close — Instead of cutting flush to the trunk, leave intact the branch bark ridge and collar where the branch meets the trunk.
  • Ripping Bark — Heavy branches can fall and rip bark before you’re done making a clean cut. When done properly, pruning during the winter months will maintain a healthy and beautiful looking tree.

If you have any tree related questions or would like to receive a free quote, please feel free to get in touch:

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