Tree pruning is a delicate task that requires certain skills and experience in order to do in the best way possible. Pruning may be done for several reasons, such as to remove a branch that has dried out, or has been damaged by disease or inclement weather, to thin the tree crown and promote healthy growth, for landscaping purposes, etc.
However, before you just grab your pruners and start cutting away, there are a few things you should know first. And perhaps the most important one of these is when the best time to prune your trees is and, subsequently, when you shouldn’t do it. Here are a few guiding points:
What Are You Pruning?
Choosing the best time for tree trimming and pruning will largely depend on what you will be pruning. Removal of dead branches and light pruning can be done in any season without any negative consequences for your trees. As for the other cases where heavier trimming is required, each tree species will have its specifics, but the rule of thumb is to always prune in the dormant period.
Winter is the time when most tree species are dormant and with the coming of spring, trees will burst with new growth and you’ll enjoy the result of the pruning. Usually, it is best to postpone the trimming until the coldest weather has passed. Note that in spring, when the sap starts flowing, some species like walnuts, birches and maple trees may start oozing sap from the places where you have cut – that won’t harm the tree and it will stop once the tree starts growing leaves.
When you want to limit branch growth or design the tree crown in a particular shape, for lasting results it is best to prune soon after the seasonal growth of the tree is complete. By removing branches in summer, you will reduce the amount of leaves and thus the nutrition the tree produces and sends to its branches. That will limit its growth and guide it in the desired direction. Summer tree and hedge pruning is done for another reason too – this is the time of year when defective branches can easily be seen and corrected.
When to Prune Flowering Trees to Increase Flowering
If tree trimming is done in order to enhance the flowering of your trees or shrubs, there are two basic rules. For spring-blooming trees, the pruning should be done right after the flowers fade. For the ones that bloom in mid- or late summer, tree surgery should be done in winter/early spring.
When Should You Not Prune?
Trees and shrubs should not be pruned in autumn. There is a simple reason for that – in autumn, fungi spread spores more intensely than in any other part of the year. Humid weather promotes fungal growth and tree cuts will heal more slowly. So, it’s best to leave your pruning shears in the shed and wait for a better time to prune.
Tree pruning and trimming should be best done when trees are dormant, unless you are removing dead branches, which should be done as soon as you notice them. If you are unsure of when or how much to prune, your best bet would be to entrust the task to experienced tree surgeons. They will have not only the know-how needed to do the job right, but also all the equipment necessary for doing it safely.