When is the best time to prune trees?

Pruning is an essential part of ongoing maintenance for trees. It provides many benefits, such as stopping the spread of disease and promoting a long life for the tree. While there are various seasonal opportunities to prune your trees throughout the year, pruning during the wintertime is extremely beneficial in keeping your trees healthy and happy.


In Colorado, trees go dormant in the winter months to survive the colder, harsher weather. During this period, trees have an increased tolerance to the cold at a cellular level. Depending on the species of tree, dormancy can look different; most leafy trees will lose all their leaves, but some needle trees can retain their needles during dormancy. Regardless, it’s much easier to see the full structure of a tree during the winter season, making it even easier to know where pruning should occur.


Pruning during dormancy is also a great way to ensure that trees are not susceptible to new diseases, or to ensure that certain trees are not spreading disease to other plants and trees around them. Additionally, because sap is not free flowing during the winter months, there is less likely to be any insect infestations occurring. Without these common issues to worry about, you can feel more confident in your tree’s ability to heal from cuts that occur during pruning.


If you have trees on your property, you may want to consider pruning them before spring. To prune your trees yourself, you’ll need:

  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Pole pruner/pole saw
  • Loppers
  • Hedge shears


You should never remove more than 25% of the trees crown during pruning. If too much of the tree is cut, it will likely have more trouble healing and may have trouble coming out of dormancy in the spring. Large branches should be cut in sections so as not to tear any bark from the trunk of the tree. Smaller branches can be cut directly off at about 1/4 of an inch from the bud of the branch. It’s important to look for branches that may be affected by disease or previous damage, as these areas should be pruned first. The goal is to prune to the natural shape of the tree to highlight its best features and is not necessarily just for aesthetic purposes. Cutting for aesthetic purposes often leads to incorrect pruning practices, which may put your trees through unnecessary damage.


Pruning a tree by yourself will more than likely take a lot of time and effort. Without the skills and experience of a trained arborist, you also risk damaging your tree by making unnecessary cuts to branches. Hiring a professional will ensure your time is saved, and the job is done right the first time.


Overall, if you have trees on your property that you would like to have pruned this winter, it might be a great time to call the professionals! At Front Range Arborists, we offer residential and commercial tree pruning services. Get a quote today to find out more!