Why Winter Pruning Is Beneficial To Your Deciduous Trees

The Basics of Dormant Season Tree Pruning

Winter is an excellent time to prune your deciduous trees. Not only are the leaves not in your way, but dormant tree trimming is beneficial to your trees' continued health. 

Why Prune in Winter?

Winter pruning allows your trees to direct energy into making healthier roots instead of new growth. It also allows you to see the limbs clearly so you can remove dead or diseased limbs and branches, and clear out overgrowth from the middle. Shaping the tree in winter is simpler than trying to do so when it is covered in foliage.

When to Prune

February is the best time to prune most deciduous trees. Across most of the country, all trees are completely dormant by February and there is no chance that a warm spell will cause new growth that can be damaged by further cold. Live oaks and red oaks are very susceptible to Oak Wilt disease and should never be pruned between late February and late June when the beetle that carries the fungus is active.Although it is tempting to prune in early fall before it gets too cold for you to be outside, that is the worst time to trim trees, because a late warm spell can cause new growth.

How Dormant Pruning Helps Trees

Because pruning cuts heal faster when the tree is dormant, there is less chance of insect and disease damage. For example, spring-pruned trees attract disease-spreading beetles which aren't around in the winter. Winter pruning causes less stress on the trees and ensures healthier spring growth.

What to Prune Away

Dead or diseased branches should be the first to go. To insure you remove all the disease, cut a good ways below the infected portion. Cut low-hanging branches that interfere with mowing or walking. Trim away the smaller of  two crossing branches, and take out water sprouts and branches growing toward the center of the tree. Thin the center growth to allow more sunlight and air to reach that part of the tree.

When to Seek Professional Help

Trimming large trees can be dangerous, so call in a professional tree service any time you are trying to cut above a pole pruner's reach, especially if trying to cut larger limbs. For your own safety, never attempt to trim limbs near power lines. After storm damage, clearing heavy limbs that are partially attached or hung in the tree's crown should only be attempted by a pro.

Trees not only add beauty and shade to your property, but they also add value. Caring for your trees in the winter will ensure that they leaf out gloriously and grow strongly in the spring and summer. Some tree trimming professionals (such as those from J&T Tree Co.) offer special rates for winter tree service, so call your local arborist today for an estimate.