The Best Time to Prune Trees in Alberta

By: albertaarb - July 24, 2013

Any person wondering when the best time to prune trees in Alberta is, likely knows that doing it during the dead of winter is never a good idea.  Instead, do it when the temperature rises above zero degrees, for your sake and the tree's sake.  That having been said, there are many different times that may be best for individual trees.


While all trees in any yard except for evergreens are dormant during the winter, you want to aim for the period during dormancy when there is the least amount of stress on the plant.  Once trees have the last of their leaves fall off and die, they no longer receive any nutrients and have effectively closed up shop for winter; there is much less chance of them getting an infection or a fungus past around mid-October.  Since it is easy to see the structure of the tree, furthermore, you can tell what needs pruning and what does not.  If you wait until the mid-spring, you can see what limbs have buds and what do not, so that you can then trim them.

Size Matters

It would seem to make sense that a tall, healthy, multi-limbed tree could survive more pruning and come out better than a tree that stands only a few feet higher than a person.  In fact, a small tree is capable of taking much more pruning than a larger counterpart.  This is because the young tree has more live cells in each limb, while an older tree has mostly dead cells that keep it standing up and suspended in the soil.  As such, the tree with more live cells can better withstand punishment.  Do as much pruning as possible to a tree when it is young and still developing new limbs each year.

Shrubs and Trees

Rules that govern the pruning of trees in Alberta do not apply to shrubs.  Though both have leaves, flowers, and branches, a shrub should be pruned almost as soon as they are done blooming.  A non-flowering shrub, or an evergreen shrub, can effectively be pruned any time of the year and stay healthy, so do not worry about keeping them in good shape.  A blooming shrub, however, should be kept wide at the bottom so that enough sun reaches the bottom.  Do not prune once the first leaves of a shrub start to turn yellow (usually around the end of September), since this may not give it enough time to recover and harden once the winter comes in heavy. Then you may be left with having to remove the tree instead of pruning it.

Whenever you are looking for advice on tree pruning or maintenance, Alberta Arborists offer professional advice and service to keep your backyards and orchards growing strong and tall.

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