Is it Pruning Season?

Is it Pruning Season?

There are many reasons homeowners will choose to prune a tree. Those reasons could include: preventing dead/weak branches from falling, allowing better movement on their property, welcoming more sunlight, maintaining tree health, guiding fruit or flower production, improving the overall look of a yard, making a tree more structurally sound, or rescuing a tree damaged by a storm. The motivation behind pruning can help determine the proper season for pruning.

In most cases, the best season for pruning is winter.

When trees and plants have entered their winter dormant state, they are in the ideal state to be pruned. Because the leaf coverage is reduced or completely gone in some plant varieties, the branches of the plant can easily be seen and groomed according to proper arboricultural practices. According to the professionals at Chicago Botanic Gardens, mid-November through mid-March is the optimal time to trim and shape deciduous plants for the upcoming spring season.

In addition to the ease of pruning without visual intervention from leaves, winter is also preferred because trees are more likely to recover from the pruning in good condition. In warmer seasons, risk of disease and insects are a strong concern for tree health after pruning.

If possible, wait till the worst of the winter cold has passed before pruning. With the proper pruning techniques, a burst of new life and growth can be expected in the spring.

What about pruning in summer?

Although there may be some emergency circumstances which necessitate pruning during summer as well, the primary reason for pruning during the summer is to limit or direct a tree’s growth. If a plant is pruned directly after its seasonal growth, the reduced leaf coverage will in turn limit the food received by the plant and dwarf the plant. If a tree is growing in a limited space, this method for pruning might be necessary. Defective branches or branches which need to have their growth stifled can also be dealt with during the warm summer months.

The worst time to prune is the fall.

Even though visibility of branches is starting to improve in the fall, leaving the pruning shears in the shed till winter is strongly recommended. Unfortunately, decay spreads rapidly in the fall months and trees are less likely to heal well from the wounds of pruning as a result.