As the temperatures cool, most people stop thinking about tree care. But the reality is that winter and early spring are an excellent time for tree work.
In fact, some tree services, such as pruning fruit trees to maximize fruit production, should only be done while trees are dormant during winter.
In autumn, leaves fall off deciduous plants and trees take a winter “rest” until warmer spring temperatures wake them up. Doing tree work during this dormant period has many benefits, both for your trees and for your wallet.
5 Benefits of Winter Tree Pruning
Benefit #1 – Makes Tree Structure More Visible
Proper pruning means making the right cuts in the right places to improve the shape, health and safety of your trees. Without leaves covering braches, it’s easier to see the structure of your trees. We can quickly tell whether or not a tree needs to be pruned and can more easily identify dead or dangerous branches that should be removed.
Benefit #2 – Stops Diseases From Spreading
Tree diseases are typically caused or spread by bacteria, fungi, parasites and insects. Unless the weather has been exceptionally warm, these disease agents are usually dead or dormant during winter months. As a result, diseases are less likely to be transmitted through tree work done in winter.
Some trees, such as elm and oak, as well as trees infected with fire blight, are best pruned in winter specifically to minimize the risk of spreading Dutch elm disease and oak wilt.
Benefit #3 – Increases Efficiency
Temperatures in the Dayton area often get cold enough in winter to freeze the ground. That means we can bring in heavy equipment without damaging your landscape, letting us work more efficiently and resulting in lower costs for you. This is especially true for large tree pruning jobs and removals.
Benefit #4 – Causes Less Stress for Trees
A tree’s normal reaction to pruning is to stimulate new growth and to close the wound made by the pruning cut. When we prune in winter, it doesn’t cause new growth until spring, at which time the tree has access to the moisture, sunlight and nutrients it needs to support healthy growth. Plus, dormant pruning gives trees time to heal from pruning cuts before warmer weather brings out destructive insects and pathogens.
Benefit #5 – Improves Tree Safety Over 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.
Should You Prune Spring Flowering Shrubs and Trees in Winter?
Trees and shrubs that bloom in early spring will flower on branches that developed buds before winter arrived. If you prune those branches before the plant blooms, you’ll be cutting off all the flower buds.
For early spring-blooming trees, it’s best to delay pruning until after they’ve finished flowering. If the tree or shrub flowers in late spring, you should be fine with a winter pruning job.
Should You Still Prune Trees In Spring & Summer?
Of course! Spring and summer are also excellent times to prune trees and shrubs, although it’s often done for different reasons than winter pruning.
Here are some typical warm weather pruning tasks:
- Removing deadwood that can’t be easily identified in winter (on some tree species it’s hard to tell whether a branch is dead until the tree breaks dormancy)
- Taking out damaged or diseased branches
- Improving the overall look of the tree once it’s leafed out
- Opening up the tree to increase air circulation or allow more sunlight into the interior
- Raising the tree canopy to improve your view
- Reducing the size of shrubs and trees that have grown too large or are getting in the way
Until trees have fully leafed out, some underlying issues are not obvious or cannot be seen, while other problems occur as the tree continues to grow. And, of course, dead, damaged or diseased branches and trees should always be removed when you first notice them, regardless of the time of year.
Over the long term, proper tree trimming and pruning can help promote the health, safety and beauty of your trees.
Call or contact us today to see which time of year is best for working on your trees.