Why Winter Is The Best Time For Pruning

It may be hard to believe when you look outside your window, but spring is just around the corner. As the ice and snow melts and the temperatures begin to rise, some of your landscape’s trees and plants will need pruning in order to look their best. Plants maintained by proper pruning will produce more flowers and fruit, be more effective at fighting off pests and diseases and experience better health overall.

Pruning in the winter is a time-tested method for achieving the best spring growth. Plant life is largely dormant in February and March; pruning at this time will clear the way for vibrant new growth in April and May. It can also be easier to prune at this time as without leaves and blooms obstructing your vision, you can get a better look at branches and stems.

Trees ideal for pruning in the late winter and early spring months include spruce, cherry, poplar, crabapple and juniper, to name just a few. Pruning some tree varieties, like maples and walnuts, may cause sap to flow. This is a minor issue, and will likely stop once the leaves start coming in.

Others trees, such as elms and dogwoods, are more likely to “bleed” more heavily. For these, it might be good to hold off until the summer. Take note that anything that blooms in spring has formed its buds, and shouldn’t be pruned until flowering has occurred. As for shrubbery, barberries, mallow, hydrangeas and camellias can all be pruned in cold weather conditions.

As far as pruning techniques to employ, make sure to cut at an angle that mirrors the branch collar, and cut large tree branches into three parts. Take off roughly one-third of the branch to cut down on weight. Then undercut the remaining stub to avoid ripping the trunk bark when it comes away from the tree. Lastly, make the last cut on the top of the branch, next to the branch collar.

When it comes to practices to avoid, don’t leave any stubs behind, as they act as entry points for insects and disease to infect healthy trees. Also, cut in relation to your tree’s natural growth pattern. Scalping your trees leads to not only an unattractive appearance, but will also promote weak new sprout growth.

If you keep proper pruning practices in mind, your landscape will be in great shape when spring finally arrives. If you have any questions about the best pruning options for your landscape, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Alfresco!