Why Trees Need Winter Pruning

By: albertaarb - October 14, 2013

In the last days of autumn when the hint of the winter season is in the air, probably the last thing on your mind is the task of winter tree pruning. Winter has that tendency to slow down things and while you have every good reason to give in and be a little bit lazy, do not put away your gardening tools just yet. Winter is actually a good time to prune some of the trees in your yard.

Why Go For Winter Tree Pruning

Many homeowners get their trees pruned before winter but those of you who have tried snipping away at the foliage know that trees tend to sprout new leaves and thick flowers in the spring and summer, so a tree getting a trimming in winter will eventually grow back new budding points. Winter is the perfect time for tree pruning because this is the season when trees shed their leaves and branches are clearly visible. When you can see how the tree actually looks like without its leaves, it is easier for you to plan your approach and know how much to cut off and where. That way you avoid overcutting or undercutting key branches.
Trees in winter also become dormant, so much of their normal activities slow down. If you prune in winter time, trees do not produce as much sap as they would during other seasons. Of course, the tree will still "bleed" when cut but there will be considerably less sap to contend with, which means less cleaning up and less messy residue to manage after pruning.
Another key advantage of pruning trees in winter is that the cold weather helps minimize the transfer of fungus from one tree to the next. Most fungi that afflict trees thrive in warmer weather. Coupled with used and unsanitized tools and equipment, fungus can be spread quite easily. This risk, however, is less threatening in winter. The dormant season also helps prevent exposure of living tree tissue to bacteria and fungus that could lead to problematic diseases later on.

Growing Better Trees in Winter

Pruning in winter can also help boost the health of the trees. When trees go dormant, they store food in the main stems and the root system. Every time a part of the tree is cut, such as leaves and branches, the tree has fewer parts to feed. As a result, it has more nutrients to use. In spring when the tree goes active again, it will use these stored nutrients for distribution to its other parts. Since these parts receive more nutrients than before, they become healthier, more robust and grow more vigorously than they would if there were more tree parts to feed. Trees are not expected to look their best in winter, so winter tree pruning will prove advantageous in terms of the aesthetic value that trees will add to the yard later on.

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