When is the best time to trim your trees? The answer is not always a simple one. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding when and how to trim your trees. Different types of trees need to be trimmed at different times, depending on their growth habits and needs. And there are other mitigating factors, like the presence of insects, the trees’ vulnerability to disease, and the shape and condition of the surrounding landscaping.

Generally, the best time to prune or trim trees and shrubs is usually during the late fall and winter. From the month of November into late March most species of trees are dormant, making them less susceptible to disease or insect infestation. It’s also easier to perform the work during the winter months when it will have less impact on the surrounding landscape flora, much of which will also be dormant for winter and easier to work around. Having less active vegetation nearby typically allows workers more direct and efficient access to trees that need trimming.

When the spring growing season begins in earnest, any trees trimmed during winter dormancy will heal and recover much quicker due to the onset of their seasonal growth cycle. If you plan to do your trimming in late winter or early spring, it’s important to have it done before the weather turns warm, when trees begin to wake up and produce healthy new growth.

Why Trim Your Trees?

Trimming (or pruning) of plants encourages growth, increases the health of the plant, improves the appearance of the plant (and your landscaped property), and can even boost the plant’s production of fruit and flowers.

Trimming (pruning) primarily involves the removal of dead or dying branches injured by disease, insects, or other external causes of damage. An effective pruning involves the removal of branches that are in contact or too close together, eliminating branch stubs, and maintaining the plant in a well-proportioned shape and density, with adequate room to thrive and grow. Trimming also keeps your trees in proper shape and good order, preventing dangerous overgrowth that might damage adjacent property or nearby structures.

Trimming as an Aid Against Disease

When planning an active trimming schedule, it pays to be cautious. If you are dealing with tree-borne infections, spring or summer pruning can increase the chance that the infection will spread, whereas pruning in autumn or early winter might accidentally negatively affect your trees when the following growth season rolls around.

You can avoid Oak Wilt disease by pruning oaks between November and March. Oak trees should never be pruned between April and October. Apple trees should be pruned between February and late April. Honey Locusts should be pruned while still dormant (in late winter) since it’s best to trim them in dry conditions.

Trees you Shouldn’t Trim in Late Winter

Late-winter trimming isn’t always the answer. Some trees should only be pruned after they’ve already bloomed in the spring or summer. Trimming them too early in the season can damage or remove buds, drastically reducing the number of flowers that appear during bloom time. Magnolia, crabapple, and redbud trees are all good examples of this.

Trees that bloom early in the growing season should typically be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Non-flowering trees should be pruned in the spring before growth begins.

Most evergreens usually require very little pruning, though they can still derive benefits from being properly trimmed according to their specific growth cycles. It may also be necessary to trim them for safety reasons if they suffer from hazardous dead branches or hanging limbs.

Trimming Young Trees

When trimming young trees, it’s important that you only remove clearly broken or dead branches. Heavy pruning shouldn’t occur for at least two years, to ensure that the tree is well established and has recovered from transplanting.

If you are considering trimming your trees, it is important to contact a professional arborist who can help assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.

At Reaching Higher we have years of experience helping homeowners and businesses take care of their trees. Contact us today for a free consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about tree trimming or any other services we offer!

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