I feel I could write this blog for every month of the year. People call up and ask if now is a good time to start pruning or trimming trees, and while we are definitely in the middle of winter here, we’re not getting freezing temperatures like we normally do this time of year. So, it begs the question when is the best time to start pruning trees in the winter months?
Whether it’s trees that just get out of hand during the spring, fruit trees, or you’re cleaning up your yard, pruning is important. Pruning encourages trees and shrubs to grow in a more stable way and reduces the risk of compromised tree structures and improper weight distribution, even though most trees know what they’re doing.
Pruning can also improve the overall look of the tree and removes dead and diseased branches, stimulates growth, and increases leaves, flowers, and fruits. Removing branches is also necessary when they become a problem for traffic, people, and buildings. So when is a good time to start winter pruning?
I would recommend not to prune any tree until the risk of frost is behind us. This might be not until March. Pruning produces different effects depending on the tree and where you make the cut can also make a difference. If you have buds already starting to come out on some of your fruit trees you can simply pinch them off with your thumb and forefinger. This stops the tree stem from elongating and encourages bushy growth. This is good for perennial flowers and shrubs where you want a more full look.
If you are considering pruning fruit trees for optimal fruit growth this summer and fall, wait until all risk of frost is behind us. Pruning or starting tree work could stimulate growth and then if we have another cold snap it could damage those tender little buds and leaves that are starting to come out from the tree structure because you stimulated the growth in the branch.
When it comes time start pruning a tree you might consider heading instead of pruning. This is where you cut further back on the shoot then you would when just pinching off a bud. You want to make your cut at a slight angle above the side branch and should not leave a stub since these will usually rot and increase the chances of insects and disease.
You might also consider thinning the tree which removes an entire branch back to the next branch or main trunk. It reduces the bulk of the plant with minimal regrowth and promotes healthier new growth to the branches that are left. Shearing is taking a hedge trimmer and completely cutting back any bushy or small little growths that have happened over the last couple of months. This is perfect for arborvitaes, shrubs, and boxwoods. You can also look into tree trimming as well.
Of course, if there are branches that are starting to break off or is simply into the way, you can give us a call at any time and we can trim the trees no matter what time of year it is. Sometimes, keeping buildings, pets, and people safe far outweighs a little bit of regrowth to a tree.