Why is it Better to Trim my Trees in the Winter?

You might heard that pruning during late winter is better for your trees. In this post, we’re going to explore some of the reasons for this with you, as well as some exceptions and some problems to keep your eye out for.

We’ll start off with a simple list of reasons, and then we’ll explain in further detail.

  1. Fungus, disease and insects are dormant during the winter.

  2. It’s easier to see the structure of the tree, which gives a clearer picture of what needs to be removed to promote healthy growth.

  3. The tree being trimmed is dormant. This means that the tree will not waste energy on a sort of shock reaction.

  4. The ground is harder. This makes it easier for us to get the necessary equipment to the tree without leaving ruts in your beautiful lawn!

Now that we know the reasons we trim trees in the winter, we can take a look at some exceptions.

  1. Trees that bloom in the spring.
    While it’s healthier to trim these trees in the winter, they will not bloom nearly as nicely after being trimmed because their energy is being put into growing new limbs. If these spring bloomers cheer you up after a long winter, it’s fine to trim them immediately after they finish blooming.

  2. Damaged or diseased branches.
    Normally, we trim trees when we won’t cause any damage at all. But when a tree is damaged or diseased, it becomes a matter of causing a little bit of damage now, or risking extensive damage (sometimes even death) to the tree.

  3. Intentional stunting.
    This is not as common, but sometimes, we want a tree, or even just certain branches, to grow more slowly. One easy example of this would be a bonsai tree. Another example is balancing the growth of a mature or leaning tree to prevent it collapsing under its own weight.

If you have a tree that needs some attention, this winter is the time to do it. Give us a call today to schedule a free in-person estimate, and we’ll get your tree ready to grow beautifully this year.


More Details

Trimming trees is somewhat like performing surgery. When you trim branches, or limbs, you’re exposing the trees nutrient delivery system. This works much like our veins and arteries. Instead of veins and arteries, a tree has xylem and phloem. When a branch is removed, whether by trimming or much more destructively during a storm, these “veins” are exposed to the air. During the warmer months, this exposure can give diseases and fungus that feed on your trees an easy way in. Trimming during the winter reduces or eliminates these risks, because most, if not all of the disease, fungus, and insects that affect trees are dormant. This gives the exposed flesh of the tree time to dry out and harden, acting almost like a scab.

When a tree has no leaves, all that’s left are the branches. With the experience we have working with trees, we can detect any risks to the health of the tree and remove branches in the right places to set the tree up for good, balanced growth. This will make your tree more and more beautiful as it grows. Sometimes, it takes multiple years of trimming to get a tree to grow properly.

Much like our own muscles, when a tree detects damage, it typically starts growing to strengthen the damaged area. In nature, this is designed to help the tree reduce the amount of damage caused by branches being snapped off. As we explained above, we remove branches to promote balanced growth. Trees don’t know that of course, so they’ll still try to reinforce the “damage” we cause. But during winter, trees are essentially hibernating, so this growth won’t happen. This allows us to remove any potentially problematic branches without this regrowth.