The best time to prune most trees is in the winter, but if you’ve just moved into your home or rental, or just forgot, there’s still time to make-up for lost time. If you’ve noticed a tree branch or two that’s gotten out of control you may want to trim. For aesthetic, safety, and plant growth reasons pruning can be necessary. But, before you grab the clippers, there are a few things you should consider.
With most plants and trees you want to be sure to trim before new growth starts. If you’re able to catch your branches before they send out leaves you’re better off as they are still considered to be dormant at this point. If the leaves have begun to spring out, you’ll want to make sure that pruning is appropriate to the plant. If you’re removing dead, damaged, or dying branches it will help the plant overall, and decrease the risk that the entire tree dies. In this case, pruning is essential no matter the time of year. Just make sure to cut and potentially seal the tree properly to prevent the risk of further problems.
What Should I Prune
Some trees, such as walnut, maple, and birch, are better to trim in early summer and late spring. This is because in the winter they will produce more sap, which is messy although harmless. As the sap is used as the tree’s energy, once it has produced leaves trimming will be much less sticky. With some fruiting and flowering trees, it is best to prune once the blooming cycle has completed. These blooms provide necessary food for many pollinators, and they are part of what drives the growth of the tree, which is why waiting to prune can be beneficial. Some of the trees included in this are apricot, crabapple, dogwood, lilac, magnolia, and flowering cherries.
What Shouldn’t I Prune
On the other hand, some tree species are more susceptible to disease if trimmed once spring has started. Oaks can more easily catch oak wilt, and elm trees become at risk of Dutch elm disease, for instance. Other risky trees include Sycamore, which can be subject to anthracnose, and honeylocust, which may develop stem cankers.
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