Weather conditions control tree growth. They react to temperature and light, and cold temperatures, short days, as well as winter dormancy provide ideal pruning conditions. You could say, if fall is for planting then winter is for pruning.
That doesn’t mean going out with your chainsaw and starting to cut just because it’s winter. It means inspecting your trees to determine if they really need pruning. Pruning shouldn’t be guided only by the calendar. It should be guided by the calendar and the tree(s). Arboricultural best practices direct us to prune with a purpose. First, inspect your tree(s) to determine if they…
• Have broken, hanging, crossing or rubbing branches.
• Suffer from an insect or disease attack.
• Overhang structures.
• Block a vista.
• Block traffic visibility.
• Need thinning.
• Need to be reduced in size.
If any of these conditions exist, the tree(s) should be pruned. If none of these conditions exist, you’re lucky and don’t need to worry about pruning. If you are on the fence, one of our professional arborists can inspect your trees and make recommendations.
If your trees do need pruning, please get any thoughts of doing it yourself out of your mind quickly. There are good reasons why our arborists use personal protective equipment (PPE). Our work is dangerous, even for professionals. It’s even more dangerous for amateurs.
Our arborists always wear eye and ear protection. The reason for that is obvious. They also wear helmets because “struck by” (being struck by a falling or swinging limb) is one of the major causes of injury and death in tree care operations. You’ll never see a professional arborist pruning while standing on a ladder. It’s too easy to slip and fall. They always secure themselves in the tree with ropes or work from an aerial bucket.
Winter is a good season to prune because, with no leaves, we can see the tree’s skeletal structure, and the cutting wounds will be well calloused (healed) before insects and diseases become active again in spring. Frozen ground will support our heavy equipment and clean-up is easier when we don’t lose leaves as we drag cuttings to the chipper.
All the while we are pruning, you can stay in the nice, warm house and watch. And when we’re finished, you’ll be safe and happy and your trees will be safe and happy.
Winter is not long enough for all the pruning we must do. We do not have a crew here, so I do much of it myself. We get a tree service to work on the big pines and other big trees that need to be removed around buildings. I have been working with other arborists since my internship with them in 1988, but do not climb. I just am not good at it. However, when I worked with crews in the past, I was a rather proficient groundsman.