The temperatures outside may clearly indicate that we are still sitting in the middle of winter, but now that the calendar has turned over to a new year, many of us can’t help but think about the coming of spring. For a lot of homeowners, these thoughts turn to how to get the yard ready for warm weather and the days spent outside where you can actually enjoy the landscaping.
As you daydream about green grass, trees, and shrubs in all their finer glory, you might be wondering when the right time for tree pruning is. The short answer is it depends. Different types of shrubs and trees are pruned at different times. The two primary seasons for shaping and trimming away dead or diseased limbs is late winter/early spring and late spring/early summer. We’re here to clear up some of the confusion about when to prune.
To Prune or Not To Prune?
We are quickly approaching the first season for pruning, so you need to know if it is time to sharpen your shears and start planning. First of all, a word of caution. You don’t want to do any clipping too soon, or you’ll risk damage to your trees and shrubs. Wait until the temperatures start to rise. If the temperature drops too far below freezing, any incisions you’ve made will dry out.
During the winter months in temperate climates, a majority of plants enter a dormant phase. This means that they’ve undergone changes that are adapted for energy conservation in cold temperatures. As such, there is no active growth occurring. There is a sweet spot for tree pruning that occurs between the time when temperatures are extremely cold and when new growth starts to appear.
This timing is key for two reasons. First, when you prune before any new buds spring forth from the tree, you allow the plant to utilize all of its energy for the healthy production of new growth. When you wait, the tree wastes its energy on forming buds or leaves that are either diseased or destined for the chopping block. Second, when reshaping a tree, it is much easier to see its true form without all the foliage.
What Gets Pruned in Winter?
Generally speaking, you should not prune anything that develops its buds on top of the previous year’s growth. This includes shrubs such as azaleas, forsythia, lilacs, mountain laurels, oakleaf hydrangea and wisteria. It also includes dogwood, cherry, magnolia and redbud trees. For these types of plants, you need to wait until after their blooms have faded, which is typically in the late spring or early summer.
Plants that produce blooms on new, spring growth get pruned in late winter or early spring. Butterfly bushes, smooth and panicle hydrangea, roses, dogwoods and St. John’s wort are all examples of shrubs that you should be thinking about pruning in the coming months. In addition, evergreen trees and shrubs and shade trees all get pruned during this time as well.
Make sure that you prune on a dry day so that you don’t spread waterborne plant diseases in the process. Trim away dead, diseased and unwanted lower branches first, and be sure to cut at the node to promote healthy growth. Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine exactly what you should be cutting away! It might be hard to tell a diseased branch from a healthy one or know which upper-level branches are dead. The best way to ensure your plants are pruned safely and correctly is to hire professionals to get the job done the right way, at the right time.
Why Choose Martin’s?
Martin’s Tree Service has been in the business of caring for trees for more than a decade. We are as passionate about keeping our customers happy as we are about trees. You can trust us for all of your tree pruning needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.