Due to cooling temperatures, snow and other weather elements, many homeowners pay a lot less attention to their trees and other gardening elements during the winter. Most trees are dormant during the winter, they assume, and this is a period where they don’t really need much love.
At Reliable Tree Care, however, we’re here to tell you about one particular area that might actually be better off done during the winter: Tree pruning, or the removal of various branches for the improvement of tree health and appearance. We’re happy to help with pruning needs at any time of year – here are some of the basics on why pruning for certain reasons might be better done during cold weather.
Pruning, Dormancy and Seasons
As we noted above, most trees enter dormancy during the winter months. This means that pruning does not stimulate new growth. And while this may sound like a negative in terms of pruning at this point, the opposite is actually the case in some situations – particularly those related to basic tree maintenance.
When trees are cut during pruning, they’re wounded and need time to heal properly. This is tougher during the spring and summer months, which are the heaviest times for disease and destructive pests to rear their heads. And in the fall period, pruning will stimulate new growth – this is fine, but then this growth will immediately be killed when the temperatures drop. In addition, spring pruning can impede blooming or fruiting if it’s done at the wrong time.
Why Winter Can Be Preferable
Winter pruning, on the other hand, can encourage the right kind of new growth – and at the right time. There’s less foliage present during winter, for one, which makes it much easier to assess the condition of branches and limbs that have been damaged and might need removal. It’s also easier to access certain tough areas, plus simpler to identify long-term structural issues. And if you time it properly, new growth will be encouraged just as spring hits and temperatures rise.
Limiting Disease Risk
Another risk of pruning in autumn, at least for maintenance purposes, is the risk of spreading disease. Wounds don’t heal as quickly for trees during the fall, but disease-carrying spores are in high season and trees can become infected. They’re also more susceptible to insects and parasitic activity.
There are some cases where pruning simply can’t be avoided regardless of the season – when tree branches are dead, dying or diseased past a certain point, for instance. But when we’re talking about maintenance pruning, the kind meant to shape a tree or boost some area of growth, this should not be done in spring or summer if you can avoid it. Once trees are actively growing, you should hold off on cuts that might interfere with everything from growth to dormancy patterns. Knowing when not to prune trees is just as important as knowing when to prune them in some cases.