— From the pages of FLL#29 • Written by Chad Diller
The answer? Now. For most cases, during the dormant season between fall and spring is the ideal time to prune your trees. That’s not to say that you should not prune your trees during the rest of the year if they really need it. Delaying can be a worse choice in most cases than pruning them at a less than ideal time.
Understanding this answer starts with a basic understanding of tree pruning. Proper pruning of trees performs a valuable service of removing dead and decaying tissue, thinning the tree for better air and light penetration, improving shape and structure, and improving the overall health of a tree. There is more involved with proper tree pruning than running a chainsaw and dragging some brush. Please don’t assume it’s that simple. Would you trust just anyone with a paintbrush to create a work of art for your living room? Would you hand anyone a scalpel and ask them to do surgery? When pruning cuts are made, it is a strategic and necessary wound to a tree to accomplish a greater purpose.
3 Main Purposes of Tree Pruning
• Crown Cleaning: Our goal is to get as much dead/decaying growth out as possible to improve tree health and reduce hazards.
• Crown Thinning: This improves/ corrects tree structure. It’s also a great benefit when we are trying to get more sunlight to a lawn area underneath that needs thickening or to new plantings we are installing and/or maintaining.
• Crown Raising: This helps to give clearance to structures, traffic, pedestrians, improves visibility, and helps to clear utility wires.
Reasons to Prune during the Dormant Season
• Saving Money: Companies like to have a little bit of a backlog for work to keep their crews busy. Typically these backlogs shorten up in the winter and companies may run promotions (see below) to add work to their schedule.
• Reduces Pest Activity: Since the tree is technically being injured during pruning it will be more susceptible to some kinds of insect activity. This is unlikely in the winter because insects aren’t active.
• Less Damage to Lawn: If the ground is hard and frozen, there is less chance of rutting from truck tires, or a branch dropping if that is necessary for complex projects.
If you are pruning trees such as maples, particularly sugar maples in the dormant season, be prepared for some water and sap drip in the spring. Pruning cuts take up to a year to even start to grow over with new wood. This means you’ll see internal liquids pushing out of these cuts when the tree starts to move resources out to the buds to begin flower and leaf growth. This doesn’t harm the tree, but it could be something you may want to avoid if your tree is over a walkway, parking area, or roof.
Be sure not to use any coatings over the pruning cuts. In most cases it is not advisable to paint pruning cuts because it actually impedes the natural process of the compartmentalization of that pruning wound. This previously-accepted practice has been scientifically proven, in the majority of cases, to have negative impacts on trees such as: sealing in moisture and decay, serving as a food source for pathogens, preventing wound wood from forming, inhibiting compartmentalization of decay, future cracking, exposing the interior tissue of the tree to more pathogens.
Your trees are one of your property’s most valuable assets. They provide both beauty and functional value. They can offer shade for areas of recreation, reduce energy costs, and increase the value of your property. To insure that they are cared for properly it is essential that you use the most knowledgeable and trained trimming service for their pruning. Be sure to use a tree service that employs Certified Arborists. They understand the proper time to prune each species and any implications for pruning at other times of the year.
Again, most of the year it is advisable to prune your trees if they are in need, but if you can take your choice, pruning in the dormant season is the best choice. If you’d like a free consultation for tree pruning, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 717-399-1991 or MyTomBom.com for a free consultation.
3055 Yellow Goose Road, Lancaster PA