February 6, 2019 Many homeowners lump tree-care tasks in with their spring and summer lawn maintenance or their autumn cleanup to prepare for winter. What they often don’t realize, though, is winter is almost always the best time to remove parts of a tree. The Benefits of Dormant Pruning During the colder months, trees enter a state of dormancy and new growth is not stimulated by pruning. Just like other living things, trees are wounded when they’re cut, and they need time to properly heal without the risk of disease or destructive insects, which are often active during the spring and summer months. Pruning during the autumn months can stimulate new growth, which is promptly killed when temperatures drop. Spring pruning after the season’s new growth is underway can impede blooming or fruiting for the rest of the year. Maintaining trees through pruning during the winter is a great way to encourage a burst of new growth when temperatures start to rise, but this isn’t the only benefit. During the winter season, the lack of foliage makes it much easier to assess the condition of branches and limbs which have been damaged or have otherwise become a hazard. Arborists have better visibility and better access to parts of the tree which are hidden while leaves and blooms are present. They are also able to identify potential structural issues so they can prune in a manner which supports good form during growing seasons to come. Minimize the Spread of Disease: Don’t Prune in Autumn There are times when trees must be pruned, either due to storm damage or falling limbs, which present a hazard. If there are dead branches or those which have the potential to become a winter hazard, fall pruning may be the only option. Whenever possible, though, it’s always best for your trees if you avoid pruning activity during the fall. Wounds heal more slowly during the fall and disease-carrying spores are at their peak, which can elevate the risk of a healthy tree becoming infected. Just like humans and animals, trees become diseased by bacterial, fungal, and parasitic activity around an open wound. Insects can also wreak havoc with the health of your trees, and all of them can take hold when there are open wounds during times of high microbial activity, like autumn. The same pruning activity during the winter allows wounds more time to heal while microbial activity is minimal, which means healthy and beautiful spring growth. The Stress of Late Spring and Summer Pruning Removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches is best done as soon as they’re spotted, but maintenance pruning to shape a tree or encourage growth should not be done in spring or summer, with some exceptions for the peculiarities of certain species. Early spring pruning can be done just as the tree is beginning to awaken from its dormancy and new growth is being naturally spurred. But once trees are actively growing, it’s best to hold off on any cuts. Summer pruning can be quite stressful to a tree because it stimulates new growth during a time when it would not naturally occur in such a manner. Done late in the summer or edging into fall, pruning can even interfere with a tree’s natural dormancy pattern. Knowing when to prune trees and how to keep them thriving beautifully isn’t easy, especially if you’re not familiar with the unique needs and characteristics of every tree species on your property. Some will “bleed” heavily if cut during active growth, losing sap through pruning wounds. Others can lose so much stored energy from the loss of a large branch or limb that the entire tree suffers, weakens, and even dies due to improperly timed and ill-advised pruning. Calling in the Experts for Perfectly Timed Tree Pruning Whether you want to raise the canopy around your property to improve the view, to increase air circulation and sunlight access to the interior of a canopy, or simply to shape the overall growth pattern of a tree more to your liking, it can be done safely with minimal stress to your trees when pruning happens at the right time. For this reason, it’s always best to rely on the experience and knowledge base of professional arborists who understand the unique needs of different types of trees throughout the growing and dormancy seasons. Front Range Arborists, Inc. offers expert tree care throughout Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Monument, Fountain, Black Forest, and the surrounding area. We’ll help you determine what’s best for your trees and how to encourage the growth you want while keeping pests, diseases, and blight at bay. Call us today at (719) 635-7459 or use our online form for a free estimate, and we’ll get your trees ready for spring without risking damage, disease, or stress to their overall structures.