Winter — A Great Time for Pruning!
By Marcus Hellwege - President, Great Plains Landscaping & Design
Why Prune in Winter?
There are several good reasons to prune in winter:
- The foliage is gone making the structure of the branches visible.
- The tree is dormant, the tree won’t bleed sap from the fresh cuts.
- Winter is the best time to trim oaks, because oaks emit odor that attracts beetles that can cause oak wilt.
- Several varieties of trees are less likely to contract diseases when pruned in the winter months. Prune Apple, Crabapple and Hawthorne trees during the cold months to avoid fireblight. Locust trees are best pruned in the winter to prevent stem canker (fungus).
Trees and Shrubs That Should Not Be Pruned During Winter.
There are also trees and shrubs that should not be pruned during the winter time due to spring flowering. Some of the common trees and shrubs that should be pruned after they are done flowering in the spring in-clude: Chokeberry, Cherry, Magnolia, Lilac, Juneberry, and Forsythia.
Proper Pruning Equipment
- Pruning tools need to be sharp. If dull, insects and disease may infect your tree or shrub.
- Hand Pruners: small branches (size of a finger)
- Loppers: medium branches (2" to 4" diameter)
- Pruning Saws [Specialized saws with wide teeth]: large branches (4" to 6" diameter)
- Chain Saws (gas or electric): extra large branches
- Hedge Trimmers (gas or electric): trim and shape shrubs
- Sanitize Cutting Tools: to prevent the spread of disease from one tree or shrub to another with rubbing alcohol
Why Prune Trees?
Prune for strength and form is the answer. Shade trees can have unstable limbs that can cause collateral damage to property. Pruning eliminates the chances of damage from wind, ice, and heavy snow. Proper pruning helps a tree grow correctly for stability.
Pruning For Strength
Look for rubbing branches, open wounds that insects and
disease can infect, water sprouts (suckers waste the trees
energy) and branches should be at a 45 degree angle. Lateral
branches should not be more than ½ to ¾ of the diameter
of the trunk.
Pruning For Form
Most trees thrive when some interior branches have been cut. This allows for air circulation and some sunlight. Leaders may have to be trimmed to help promote good health.
Prune Inward Growing Branches
Remove all branches that grow towards the center of the tree.
Do Not Use Pruning Paint or Tar Dress Wounds
A tree seals its own wounds. Bacteria, fungus or insects can cause severe damage if the tree is sealed with tar. Oak trees are the exception, because oak wilt can set in.
Great Plains Landscaping & Design offers tree care, pruning, and removal. If you need a free estimate call and set up a time for Marcus to come by. We are climbing arborists that are fully insured and can handle all of your tree service needs including:
- Residential & Commercial Work
- Tree & Shrub Trimming and Pruning
- Tree Removal
- Disease Diagnosis and Tree Health
- Guide Wiring Trees
- Stump Grinding
- Add Mulch Rings (for tree health)
Preplan your Spring Mulching!
Spring is the best time to clean up beds and install mulch 3” thick to help prevent weeds and retain moisture within the root zone. Mulch is also a very good biomass
topdressing that helps feed the plants. While the mulch decomposes the plant feeds on the nutrients, allowing growth and good root development. Call and schedule your mulching early!
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