With every season, no doubt, many of you step outside to take a look at your landscape and trees. Life can get busy, and we know pruning trees isn’t always at the top of the to-do list. Whether you want to make your trees safe and healthy from deadwood, or if you want to enhance the aesthetics of your landscape, your trees will need some pruning. If you’re thinking it’s time, make sure you know when the best time to prune your tree is! There are multiple reasons as to why you should prune your trees in the Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall.
Keep in mind that some species of trees vary in their care. Also, getting rid of dead branches or light pruning can occur during any time without harm to the tree.
Pruning Trees in Winter
Winter is a great time for pruning trees; this is when a tree is considered to be “dormant.” There is no new growth happening. The benefit of pruning in the winter is that it encourages the tree to grow more vigorously in the spring. The best time is to wait till after the coldest part of winter is over. If you see sap leaking out from your maples, walnuts, or birches, this is called “bleeding.” It will cease when the tree leafs out in the spring and will do no harm to the tree.
Pruning Trees in Spring
If you want your flowering trees to be enhanced for next year, try pruning them in the Spring. For trees that bloom in the spring, you should prune them after that season’s flowers have faded. For later-blooming trees, do it in the winter or early spring.
Pruning Trees in Summer
Spring and Summer is when trees are in their growing season. Often in the summer, you realize which branches need to be cut because of how they stick out or are weighed down by leaves. You can prune these branches to slow the growth, or direct it, in the way you would prefer. The Arbor Day Foundation explains the reason for this slow down in growth: “…you reduce the total leaf surface, thereby reducing the amount of food manufactured and sent to the roots.” One issue to watch our for when pruning your trees in the summer is sun scald. Sun scald occurs when previously shaded bark tissue is exposed, and is just like sun burn on humans.
Pruning Trees in the Fall
Fall pruning is the least ideal of all seasons to prune trees. This is the time in the life of the tree when energy is being redirected to the roots and trunk to store for next years spring bud brake – so there is not extra energy for healing wounds. Additionally, during the fall there is an increase of fungal spores relative to spring, summer, and winter. Pruning in late fall after temperatures have decreased and trees have become dormant is just fine. And, again, deadwood removal is fine any time of year.