Most shrubs and trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring, but not all! Check out our list of which trees and shrubs to prune, as well as some general pruning advice for the season.
The optimal periods to trim most trees and shrubs are late winter and early spring. Some exceptions are broad-leaved evergreens that bloom in early spring and should be clipped after blossoming. Dormant pruning immediately before growth begins exposes a wound for the shortest amount of time possible before healing begins. This will promote faster regrowth.
The ideal time to trim hydrangeas, roses, viburnums, privets, azaleas, mountain laurels, and other deciduous plants is in early spring before they flower or leave leaf cover for the season. These cuts provide light exposure to help promote new growth. Making these trims when temperatures are below 50 degrees F ensures that your efforts won't be wasted since these plants will not be active until then.
The best time to trim wisteria, lilacs, sycamores, fruit trees, and other non-deciduous plants is in the fall just before they drop their leaves. The wounds from these cuts allow more sunlight in while reducing the risk of frost damage. This will promote fuller growth during the following season.
The key to successful tree trimming is finding a time when you can do it safely without putting yourself or others at risk. Tree surgeons work under many conditions and with many different tools to ensure healthy trees remain standing within their natural habitat. They may use chainsaws, pole saws, hand tools, or spray trucks to perform their work.
Because the wounds mend faster in the winter and early spring, late winter to early spring is the optimal period for substantial trimming on most trees. If you wish to prune in the fall, wait until the trees' leaves have fallen and they are dormant, which is normally around October or November. Gently tug on the branches to see if they feel solid, then take a sharp knife to remove any damaged or dead tissue. It's important not to injure the tree itself, so be careful not to go too far when making your cuts.
The best time to cut down a tree is when it is still green with fresh new growth. However, if this time does not allow for safe removal from your property, then cutting it down during its dormant season will not harm the tree.
Trees need to be trimmed regularly to ensure their health and to avoid them developing into hazards on your property. This includes removing any damaged or dead branches because these will only cause trouble later on. If you are not sure whether a branch is healthy or not, then assume it isn't and remove it. Branches that cross paths or touch each other can grow together if given enough space, so make sure there is enough distance between different type of trees if you want them to remain healthy.
Many gardeners prune trees and shrubs as well, but now might not be the greatest time because many woody plants should not be clipped in the fall. This is particularly true for bushes. Instead, when the snow melts in early spring, trim hedges and summer-blooming plants (rose of Sharon, butterfly bush, blue mist spirea, and others). Even then, be careful not to injure young buds or risk causing winter injury to your plant.
The most important thing to remember about tree care is to take care of any problems immediately. For example, if a branch falls on a car, remove the branch immediately. Also, avoid pulling weeds around trees; they'll just grow back even bigger than before. Finally, never use chemicals and pesticides near trees or plants. They can enter the water system and cause damage to other plants and animals.
If you're wondering whether it's too late to trim your trees, the answer is no! Not only is this good gardening practice, but it also benefits the tree by removing weak branches that may otherwise invite disease or damage from wind or ice. The best time to trim trees is when they have fresh new growth. In fact, some people say spring is the perfect time because new shoots will help replace those removed during the process. Others recommend early autumn because the trees won't be overwhelmed with growth then, which makes pruning easier. Still others suggest late autumn after the leaves have fallen but before the ground freezes.
Pruning hedges is best done in late spring, early fall, or winter (when the hedges are entirely dormant). Avoid pruning hedges in extremely hot, dry weather, and prune well before the first frost date. This will prevent any possible damage caused by the heat of the sun or cold winds.
Hedges grow best when not cut back too severely. Choosing young plants and cutting them back by about half their height every other year will encourage new growth that is more resistant to disease and insect attack. Older plants should be trimmed back to the ground during the winter months to promote new growth from the base of the shrub/tree. This will help ensure a good harvest next summer.
If you choose, you can keep a hedge intact for several years. The key is to avoid over-trimming so that some branches remain to provide cover for insects as they move around the garden.
Hedge trimmings make excellent firewood. If you don't want to use them inside, let someone else enjoy the warmth of a blazing fire this holiday season!
Shrubs and trees that bloom on new growth should generally be trimmed in the winter and early spring, while those that bloom on old growth should be clipped in the late spring or summer (i.e., after their flowers fade). The reason for this is that fresh flower buds are susceptible to cold temperatures and severe winds, which could damage them. Trimming these plants during their dormant period will protect the future growth of the plant.
Some tree owners choose to have their trees professionally pruned every other year, but this is not necessary. If you want to keep your tree shape regular, you can use sharp clippers to remove some branch material, but don't cut off the whole branch or you might kill it.
The type of tree you have will determine when is the best time to trim it. Some trees are hardy enough to withstand mild winters with no harm done, while others will suffer if they are allowed to grow branches exposed to cold weather. Be sure to contact a professional landscaping company before you dig out your lawnmower, because sometimes trees need to be removed from their roots to save them.
If you're not sure when to trim your trees, ask an arborist or gardening expert for advice. They will be able to tell you if now is a good time to cut them down and how much maintenance they require each year.