Knowing when to prune a tree can improve the vegetative health of landscaping on your property. Trees require pruning for many reasons at key times during the year. Even if your property’s trees do not exhibit visible signs that pruning is necessary, such as dead branches or an insect infestation, pruning is a recommended practice that can prevent dangerous issues from appearing in the future. Reasons for Pruning
Trees need pruning for a multitude of reasons, most of which are designed to optimize the tree’s health and proper growth. For instance, trees require pruning when the branches are thick and the leaf coverings do not allow adequate sunlight and precipitation to nurture the roots. Without sun exposure and water, the tree may develop a degenerative disease.
If certain tree branches grow in close proximity to each other, high winds may cause the branches to rub together. Pruning one of the branches will preserve the other, eliminating the risk of damage to both or danger to any passersby who could be injured from a falling branch. Sometimes overactive growth in one group of branches can create a lopsided tree. Pruning aggressively growing branches ensures overall balance and lowers tree vulnerability from windy storms. Finally, dead tree branches are at risk of falling and may be infested with termites and pests. Rotten wood must be identified and removed to eliminate injury risk and prevent infestations from spreading to the remaining healthy parts of the tree.
The optimal time frame for tree pruning is the winter, after the coldest freeze has passed. Pruning dormant trees results in a rush of growth as spring arrives. The cuts into the tree will quickly heal as it begins to blossom with the oncoming season. It is also easier for the pruner to see the tree’s framework without thick leaf coverings blocking the view. To control or slow a tree’s overgrowth, summer pruning is ideal. After the blossoming period in the spring, the pruner can diagnose which branches are buckling under the weight of the foliage. Lowering the overall leaf count will signal the tree roots to slow food production. Trees should not be pruned in the fall; fungus spreads rapidly during this time and a tree cut may lead to damage.
Follow these recommendations for pruning time frames, except when dead branches are concerned. Deadwood should be removed as soon as possible, due to the safety risk, no matter the time of year.
When to Call a Professional
While some property owners may have the confidence to prune tree branches that hang low to the ground, certain circumstances warrant the attention of a professional arborist. When branches are out of reach, it is safest for property owners to contact an expert who will have the proper gear needed to prune at great heights. If a branch is located near power lines, no untrained individual should attempt pruning. This can result in electrical shock and even death. Professionals also should handle maintenance after damage from a storm or high winds. Broken branches lodged in trees should be extracted with utmost care to prevent harm to buildings and vehicles in close proximity.
For additional information on when to prune a tree, contact a certified arborist for specialized advice on the specific types of foliage located on your property.
By JEN STOTT