February 13


When is the Best Time to Prune Trees, Shrubs & Hedges?

By Danny Briggs

February 13, 2018

Most trees can be pruned year-round if pruned properly and according to arborist standards. There are certain times of the year that are better for plant health and environmental conditions that should always be considered.

BEST Time to Prune: Late Winter

Why Late Winter?

  • Warmer weather brings numerous pathogens, disease and insects. There is little of this activity in the winter, so when a pruning cut is made (aka a wound), the plant is less likely to be harmed and has ample time to heal before warm weather approaches.
  • The skeleton and structure of the plant is visible after leaves have fallen allowing the trained eye to identify live versus dead branches.

Pruning Guidelines:

  • Conifers: Prune in late winter while fully dormant. i.e.: Hemlocks, Arborvitaes
  • Non-Blooming Trees and Shrubs: Prune in late winter while fully dormant. i.e.: Conifers, Ginkgo trees
  • Spring-Blooming Trees and Shrubs: Wait until immediately after they bloom. They are the exception to the winter rule. i.e.: Forsythia, Viburnum, Witch Hazel, Andromeda
  • Summer-Blooming Trees and Shrubs: Prune in late winter. i.e.: Dogwood, Redbud, Magnolia, Crab Apple

  • Do Not prune in the fall. In the fall, disease is active and wounds heal slower giving more opportunity for pathogens to enter the live wood of a tree and spread throughout.
  • Do Not prune in times of drought. In times of drought, trees and shrubs are stressed. Pruning live wood will likely cause more stress and may compromise the health of the plant.
  • Summer pruning can be used to slow growth. This type of pruning can be used on a tree or shrub that grows vigorously. i.e., plants in the Rose and Apple family
  • Summer pruning can also be used for “formal” pruning and hedges following the growing season. In some landscape designs, formal shapes (squares, round shapes and neatly defined edges) look elegant.

ArborTech can help! Feel free to give our office a call at (413) 525-0060 to schedule an appointment with an Arborist 

Danny Briggs

About the author

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