Post Winter Pruning of Trees

Pruning trees has an advantage if you wait until the severe winter is over. Pruning trees before severe winter temperatures would show up with some unwanted physical damage.

Pruning before a severe freeze would cause the new cuts to likely split. This split then would be an attractive location for insects and disease to take up housekeeping this summer.

Not only do you want to wait until the harsh winter freezes are over, but you should never prune while the temperature is below freezing. What happens is that splitting will occur where the limb was crushed when it is frozen, rather than cut off clean when using pruners. If there is an ideal temperature to prune, you should be thinking 40 degrees or above.

Here are some guidelines as to when to prune:

  • Apple trees and pears: prune February to March.
  • Hardwoods: February to April
  • Oaks: whenever necessary
  • Evergreens can be pruned now, or better yet, around Christmas.
  • Hemlocks, junipers and yews: during the growing season, but before July 1.
  • Maple trees: there are two times to prune and that's around January to February, and then again mid summer.
  • Pines, spruce and fir: consider early summer.

One last comment; remember, topping is the beginning of the end for any healthy tree.


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