Should you prune trees during winter?

Should you prune trees during winter?

With the dark, inclement weather that accompanies winters on the Potomac, homeowners aren’t likely thinking about flowering cherry blossoms. However, the winter season may be one of the best times to bring out the shears to ensure optimal growth when spring finally arrives.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, if you are pruning to remove deadwood, any time is fine. Many landscapers prune during trees’ dormant periods in the winter because it encourages an explosion of new growth in the spring; however, the Arbor Day Foundation recommends that this be done at the latter part of the winter when the worst weather likely has passed.

Sap may flow in some trees, such as maples and walnuts, but the Arbor Day Foundation says it won’t result in lasting harm and will heal when the leaves grow in. However, spring flowering trees should be pruned at the time their flowers fade. Those that flower during summer are best when pruned in winter or early spring.

Because pruning trees may be dangerous at any time, but particularly during winter, consider hiring a local tree service. Not only will a professional understand proper pruning procedures, but he or she may also be able to teach you appropriate maintenance for the future.

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For homeowners who are handy when it comes to yard work, the Arbor Day Foundation offers the following advice for pruning trees:

• Before you get started, make sure your pruning tools are sharp.
• Ideally, most tree species should have a strong single trunk, with main branches that angle one-third off the trunk.
• The circumference of main branches should be one-third the circumference of the trunk.
• Deciduous trees (trees that lose leaves once they mature) should be pruned no more than one-third up from the ground.
• Never remove more than one-fourth of a tree’s crown in any given season.
• Make the cut outside the collar, the area where the branch is attached to the trunk or another branch.
• When pruning to shorten branches, work your way from the outside in. Cut at a slight angle right before the bud.

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