Top Reasons to Tackle Tree Pruning Before Winter is Over

Trees are among the most important living things on Earth, providing oxygen, scrubbing carbon dioxide from the air, and keeping soil from eroding. Trees are also an invaluable component of landscaping, providing shade, aesthetic beauty, and a variety of benefits to the soil and surrounding fauna. But trees need help getting all of that done. Just like we humans benefit from routine grooming, trees are a lot better off if they lose some of their old, dead (or dying) branches and limbs. This process is known as pruning, and the winter is actually the best time to get it done, ensuring that you have a healthy tree year-round.

The Importance of Pruning

Pruning trees does a lot more than just maintain their natural beauty. Removing dead or dying branches is incredibly important for a tree’s health. While you may believe that you can prune your trees yourself, that’s not really a good idea. While pruning is necessary, there are many ways it can go wrong and actually introduce disease and rot into your trees. Knowing what trees need pruning, how to prune them, and when to prune them are all things best left to the arborists.

What does pruning do for trees, exactly? Pruning can help your trees in a variety of ways, and it can also give you peace of mind when there are strong winds or a winter storm. The primary focus of pruning is on dead or dying branches and limbs. By removing these unhealthy extensions, healthy growth is encouraged in other locations on the tree. Dead limbs create hazards for the trees and you and your property. Openings in dead limbs can let pests in and also enable diseases like Dutch elm disease to enter the tree, effectively killing it from the inside.

Removing dead limbs that could fall and cause damage to your landscaping and home, or even people in your yard, is also very important. Falling limbs can be far more than unsightly issues you have to deal with – they can have huge repercussions on your home if they damage the roof, siding, trim, or gutters.

Why Winter for Tree Pruning?

Pruning trees in winter might seem like a strange proposition. First of all, isn’t it much harder to see what limbs are dead without leaves? And can’t the cold air hurt the tree if it has wounds from pruning? Despite these concerns, rest assured that there are many reasons why winter pruning is perfect for most trees. When done correctly, pruning in the winter is hands-down the best way to protect a tree’s health. So why do you trim trees in the winter?

Winter Helps You See the Tree

Despite the fear that the absence of leaves won’t provide you with a good idea of a tree’s health, winter is actually the best time to analyze a tree’s structure. Without leaves, arborists can identify limbs that are dead using a variety of other signs. Another important benefit of a bare tree allows you to determine places where branches make frequent contact. Crossing branches can rub the bark from the branches they’re in contact with, allowing pests and diseases easy access to the tree’s stems. When a tree is bare, it’s much easier to see crossing branches and overly heavy branches that can be removed to protect its structure and provide better aesthetics.

Protecting Your Lawn

Winter tree pruning is best done in late winter, (February and March) because these plants are fully dormant – this is the best time to avoid traumatizing a tree. If the ground is frozen, even better! Frozen ground will better support the equipment used when trimming trees, meaning your lawn will be less disturbed and damaged by ladders and lifts.

Easier Clean-Up

By removing dead limbs in the winter, you’re reducing the number of dead branches that’ll be raining on your lawn when spring winds start. Spring cleaning benefits a lot from winter forethought. And when you leave tree pruning to the pros like The Parke Company, you can trust we’ll clean up after ourselves. If you’ve had a lot of limbs removed, they can even be mulched for use in garden beds in the spring! If you have dead trees to remove, winter is a great season for that as well. When a tree is rooted in soft ground and being felled, there is a slight risk of the roots pulling up. This can gouge out your lawn, leaving an unsightly hole after the tree is removed.

Creating Healthier Trees

When you prune trees before new growth starts, you ensure that your tree is devoting energy and nutrition only to healthy growth. When a plant is dormant, it has more energy to devote to healing than if it was trimmed during the spring or summer when growth is a much bigger priority. It’s not just a matter of removing dead limbs, however. Properly pruning a tree takes experience. The wrong cut can make it so your tree doesn’t properly heal. Trust us – it can get fairly complicated to make healthy cuts.

Winter Pruning Exceptions

There’s an exception to every rule, and that’s true for pruning. So, what trees should not be pruned in winter? While a majority of deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves annually) are best trimmed in the winter, not every tree follows that rule. For instance, spring flowering trees like magnolias, redbuds, and cherry trees should not be trimmed until after they flower in the spring.

More Winter Pruning Advice

There is such a thing as too early when pruning trees this winter. If you’re too early and the wounds are exposed to extreme cold (which Nashville is no stranger to), they can dry up and not heal properly. Additionally, wet winter weather can allow waterborne diseases to easily access the stem of your trees.

Try to prune when it’s dry and relatively mild in terms of temperature. Since winter is unpredictable, that’s a much safer bet later in the season.

Set Up Your Trees for Success with Professional Winter Pruning

Winter is the perfect time to prune the majority of the trees we have in our region. At The Parke Company, our expertise is not limited to landscaping. Our trained arborists can help you year-round with maintenance plans geared toward tree pruning and protecting the health of your yard’s entire ecosystem. This winter, let the experts at The Parke Company tackle your tree pruning so you can have the healthiest trees come springtime. Give us a call today to explore our tree service options before winter comes to an end.