January 8, 2008

Winter Tree Pruning


Many people don’t realize this, but January is actually the best time to have an arborist prune your trees. This is when trees are dormant and their sap has stopped flowing, which means a fresh cut will bleed very little. Since the leaves are gone, this is also a time when a deciduous tree’s shape and structure can clearly be seen. Flowering ornamental and fruit-bearing trees benefit enormously from winter pruning, as the process increases flower production in the spring. White pines and other thick evergreens, which have soft wood, should be thinned out before heavy snowfall, as the weight of the snow can snap their limbs right off.

If you do have a heavy snow, grab a push broom, get outside, and take a walk around your yard. Carefully shake small, deciduous trees to remove their snowy burden. For evergreens and shrubs, use the bristle side of the broom to gently bounce the lower branches from the underneath to dislodge the accumulated snow.  If your trees are covered with ice, however, do nothing at all. A coating of ice is indeed heavy, but it also acts as an external support for the tree. So enjoy the winter wonderland and allow the ice to slowly melt away.