When Should I Prune My Trees?

By: albertaarb - May 10, 2016

Knowing when is the best time for tree pruning is key when caring for the trees on your property. Trees that are trimmed during the wrong time of the year can suffer irreparable damage. Trees that are trimmed at the proper time, by contrast, can actually become stronger and more productive. The best time of year to prune your trees depends on the type of plant you are working with.

Best Time for Tree Pruning: Deciduous Trees

Most deciduous trees should be cut back between February and April, before their leaves begin to regrow. Some people try to avoid cutting them during late winter and early spring, because they tend to bleed heavily during this time. It is, however, the best time to trim them. The large amount of sap in the tree at this time helps it to heal quickly. The tree's energy reserves drop as the leaves begin to appear and again as they fall, making late spring through fall a bad time to prune deciduous trees.

Pruning Oak Trees

While oaks are deciduous trees, they are also susceptible to an issue known as oak wilt. The transmission of this deadly fungus is encouraged by pruning, because trimming the tree attracts the beetles that carry it. Because of this, oaks should not be pruned between April 1 and July 1. Instead, they should be trimmed in February or March, before the sap beetles are present.

Trimming Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees are dormant during the winter, and pruning them as this dormant period comes to an end is the best bet if you are just removing unwanted lower branches. For spruce and fir trees, this is also a good time for major tree trimming to limit annual growth. Pines, by contrast, should not be trimmed until summer. During June and into early July, pine trees are experiencing a surge in new growth, and these new branches can simply be snapped off for thinning.

Cutting Back Fruit Trees

Fruit trees should only be trimmed between February and April. Cutting them back after the last frost but before they enter their productive season is key. Trees that are pruned late in the season, such as in fall or winter, are especially susceptible to damage from the cold temperatures. This can impact the production of fruit in the following Spring and Summer, and can cause other issues to the tree depending on the severity of the damage. In some cases, a late pruning followed by a harsh winter can kill a fruit tree.

If you need tree care services, we at Alberta Arborists offer affordable tree care services. Our main services include tree pruning, trimming, tree removal and many more. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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