Now that the leaves are changing, it’s time to think about getting your landscape ready for the winter season. You may want to think about pruning trees in winter, as winter can be one of the best times to encourage new growth on your trees in the spring. However, you may not be an expert on trimming trees in winter. If you don’t know where to begin, here is your winter pruning guide for trees.
Can You Trim Trees In The Winter?
If your question about winter gardening is, “can you prune trees in the winter”? the answer is “yes” with some exceptions. You will want to prune your trees when the temperatures are going to be fairly constant for at least a couple of weeks. If you trim your trees when the temperature is 60 degrees, and overnight, the temperature drops below freezing, your trees could be damaged.
The other exception to the pruning trees in winter question is you cannot trim trees that bloom in spring, such as dogwood, redbud, magnolia, pear, and cherry trees. If you trim these trees in the winter, you will be pruning the blooms right off the tree, which is not a good idea, especially if you have blooming fruit trees.
What Are The Benefits Of Tree Pruning?
There are several benefits of tree pruning for your landscape in the winter. Here are just some of the advantages.
1) Trees are Dormant in the Winter
During the fall and early winter, trees begin to wind down their growth. In effect, the trees hibernate. Arborists use the word “dormancy” rather than hibernation. You can tell when a tree has entered the dormant stage when the leaves color and fall off the tree. Because the tree is dormant, it is resting until spring and conserving its resources. This means the tree can handle the winter trimming and emerge stronger during the warm spring.
2) Shaping your Tree
Pruning in the winter means you’ll be able to take a good look at your tree. As a tree begins to drop its leaves in the winter, the structure of the tree is visible. You can see the shape the tree is taking, and whether it differs from the shape of the tree you want. You can trim the tree during winter into the perfect shape. By looking at the structure of the trees, you can also determine if the tree is damaged or if it is ill. If you have damage to the branches, or you spot an illness on a branch, this is the time to trim it off before it can spread and lead to the death of the tree.
3) Control its Growth
Trimming trees in winter not only can help the tree retain the shape you want, but tree pruning also helps to control excessive growth. For example, if you have a tree that is close to your home, you will want to make sure to keep the growth checked, so that the tree doesn’t get too close to the roof. Also, there are some trees that you will want to keep small because of the aesthetic of your landscape. You can continue to balance your landscape through tree trimming in winter.
4) Your Tree will Look Better in the Spring
Winter pruning means that your tree might also emerge in the spring resilient and strong. In fact, winter pruning means your tree will spend less time looking spindly and leggy in the early spring because it will immediately begin a rapid growth process. Most scientists believe this rapid growth is due to the tree using up fewer stored resources in the winter after winter pruning, which is great for those needing shade trees for parking lots.
5) Pruning can Help Prevent Diseases
When you trim trees in the winter, you may be saving other trees in your landscape. Tree diseases such as Dutch elm disease can spread quickly, and instead of losing one tree, you could lose dozens. Because so many tree diseases will quickly kill a tree, yearly pruning goes a long way towards stopping the disease progression.
6) Winter is the Best Time to Trim your Trees
What if you need to bring in heavy equipment, such as a scissor lift or crane to trim your trees? Winter is the best time to trim your trees, especially if you have to bring in equipment. In the spring, the ground in your landscape is soft, but in the winter, the ground may be harder or even frozen, which makes it the perfect time to use heavy equipment. Heavy equipment will not damage the ground in the winter as it would in the spring.
7) Dormant Pruning Keeps your Trees Healthier
When you practice winter pruning, you allow your tree time to heal during the winter season. The places where your tree is pruned can heal during dormancy, which means it is less prone to insects or disease. Your tree will emerge healthy and ready for spring.
Winter is a Good Time to Prune Trees
Many people aren’t sure if winter tree pruning is a good idea. If you have trees that flower in the early spring, you need to avoid trimming those. You also need to avoid winter tree pruning if your area is going to experience a cold snap. However, tree trimming in the winter is perfect for most of the trees in your landscape. It helps the tree to grow big and strong, and prevents damage or disease from killing the tree. It helps your trees stay aesthetically pleasing within your landscape. It can also help your trees from spreading disease. Tree trimming is an excellent way to get your trees ready for spring