Is it OK to prune trees in December?

Author: Magnolia Borer  |  Last update: Sunday, August 20, 2023

Winter is a fine time to prune many trees, shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses. Arguably, it's the best time, as you can more easily see the "bones" of the garden and worry less about damaging smaller, neighboring plants.

Can you prune tree in December?

It's a common misconception that tree maintenance cannot be done during the winter months, or that tree care companies don't operate during this time of the year. The reality is that winter is a good time for pruning and tree removal services.

What temperature is too cold to prune trees?

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.

What trees should not be pruned in winter?

Maples. Along with birches, elms, and other so-called "bleeder" trees, pruning maples in winter can lead to a great deal of sap. Wait until summer to avoid a possible mess.

When during the year should trees not be pruned?

April, May and June are not good months to prune because deciduous trees need to use their stored energy to produce new leaves instead of healing wounds. Also, pruning during warmer spring months encourages the spread of diseases such as Oak Wilt and damage by pests such as Emerald Ash Borer.

When is the best time to prune trees?

What happens if you prune a tree at the wrong time?

Pruning during the growing season always stimulates new growth. During summer's heat, having to produce that ill-timed new flush of growth greatly stresses a tree. Pruning in the fall is even worse as it prevents the tree from going into a natural dormancy. The exception is heavily damaged, disease or dead wood.

Should you prune trees in winter?

Late winter is a good time to prune most plants. Because plants and their pests are dormant this time of year, pruning cuts can be made without the risk of pests and pathogens entering the tree through the wound.

What month is best for winter pruning?

In fact, it is better to prune a little at a time than to make drastic cuts. For plants that shed their leaves (deciduous plants), the best time for winter pruning is from the beginning of November to the end of February. To prune evergreens you can start later, from mid-December, and continue until February.

What month is late winter for pruning?

Deciduous Trees

Most trees should be pruned during the late dormant season (February through March). February through March is generally regarded as the best time to prune most deciduous trees.

When should you stop pruning?

Here's when it's time to put down the pruners: In the fall. As your tree starts dropping its leaves and gets ready for winter, the last thing you want to do is prune. This only wakes the plant back up and tells it to start growing again.

Is it harder to cut trees in the winter?

The best time of year to cut down a tree would be during winter or early spring when the leaves have all fallen and the branches are free from them. You may worry that the frozen ground would make it more difficult to remove a tree, but the fact is, warm earth is more easily disturbed.

What happens if you don't prune?

Overgrown trees can pose a serious risk to your property and your family. Dead or damaged branches can fall and cause damage to your home or car or even injure someone. In addition, overgrown trees can block sunlight and views and can even damage foundations or driveways.

Is it better to cut trees in summer or winter?

Generally, the best time to prune or trim trees and shrubs is during the winter months. From November through March, most trees are dormant which makes it the ideal time for the following reasons: Trees are less susceptible to insects or disease.

Is it OK to cut lower branches off trees?

Municipalities and homeowners often remove the lower limbs for pedestrian and vehicular clearance or to let the sun shine in for grass to grow. Mature trees, especially evergreens, benefit when healthy lower branches are left intact. Removing large limbs can increase the risk of decay.

Can you prune maple trees in December?

The best time to prune your maple trees is in the late winter or early spring — ideally, you should try to get them pruned before they bloom in the spring. However, you can also prune maple trees in the late summer in order to shape them, slow the growth of certain branches, and to get rid of any dead limbs.

Should I prune in fall or winter?

For most trees, the best time for major pruning is late winter to early spring because wounds close faster. Pruning in late summer and early fall may also stimulate new growth, which has little time to harden before cold weather comes.

What time of year is best for heavy pruning?

As a general rule, a light summer pruning can be performed on most deciduous trees and shrubs. Heavier pruning should be performed when the tree is dormant, preferably in late winter before active growth begins.

Is summer pruning the same as winter pruning?

Winter pruning is analogous to pouring the foundation and framing the house: it creates the tree's structure, form, and extent. Summer pruning is all about “finish work”: trim, tile, cabinetry, etc. It refines form and keeps the interior of the tree open to sunlight, which is vital to fruit production.

What happens if you prune before a freeze?

Cutting plants back before the first frost and before plants are in full hibernation could cause them to activate dormant buds. If they push out tender new growth before the onset of winter, these new shoots will be killed by the inevitable still-to-come freezes.

Is it OK to prune before a freeze?

It is best to wait until the trees have been exposed to freezing temperatures and until the leaves have begun to turn yellow before beginning early dormant pruning. Keep a watchful eye on the long range forecast and suspend pruning when a severe drop in temperature is forecast.

Is it better to prune in fall or spring?

As a general rule, prune spring-blooming trees immediately after they flower. Prune trees that bloom in the summer or fall in late winter or early spring before the end of their dormancy. Routine pruning of dead or dying branches can be done at any time.

How do you winterize a tree?

How to Winterize Trees & Shrubs: A Step-by-Step Guide
  1. Step 1: Aerate & Fertilize the Soil. When planning your winterization strategy, start from the ground up. ...
  2. Step 2: Insulate the Roots. ...
  3. Step 3: Prune Branches & Bark. ...
  4. Step 4: Don't Forget to Water. ...
  5. Step 5: Wrap Vulnerable Trees & Shrubs.

Do trees heal in winter?

Trees pruned in the cooler months are able to heal more quickly from pruning cuts. As tree growth slows in winter, the uptake of sugars to the leaves for photosynthesis also slows. Pruning in winter allows the tree to direct energy toward healing its bark.

Why prune trees when dormant?

Like people, trees need adequate time to recover from their wounds and bounce back. The dormant season, when trees are already at rest, is the best time for them to heal. Pruning trees before new growth begins exposes them to less stress and allows for more robust new growth in the spring.

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