Why Winter Is A GREAT Time To Prune Your Trees!
While most people may not know this, winter is actually a great time to prune your trees and shrubs (with some exceptions). Here are some benefits to pruning your trees in the winter:
- Immunity – Pests and disease are dormant this time of year. This means that there are few/ no active pests and diseases to infect or infest your trees.
- Structure – Your trees branch framework is more obvious when the tree’s leaves have fallen. Therefore, pruning becomes a more simple and efficient process
- New Healthy Growth – When a tree is dormant very little energy is used. Due to this, when spring arrives, the energy that has been stored in the roots, trunk and branches over winter can be more efficiently directed into a properly pruned tree structure.
- The Law – Some trees can only be pruned in the winter season due according to certain bylaws. In Calgary, this is particularly true for elm trees between October 1st – March 31st. This is to prevent the spread of Dutch Elm disease, which can devastate Elm tree populations.
Trees To Prune in Winter
Most deciduous and coniferous tree’s are suitable to be pruned in winter. Below we’ve listed a few species (not limited to) that should definitely be considered when pruning in winter.
- Elm (any time during dormancy)- These trees must be pruned in winter due to by-laws in order to prevent the spread of dutch elm disease. This is a fungal disease that is carried by beatles attracted to the trees sap. Therefore, it is important to prune the tree while it is dormant to avoid this. This law is taken very seriously and usually carries substantial fines if ignored.
- Oak (any time during dormancy) – This tree is susceptible to a fungal disease called oak wilt. This affects the trees leaves and can eventually lead to the death of the tree. Pruning oak trees in the winter is helpful in preventing infection or the spread of this disease.
- Fruit trees (late winter) – Pruning fruit trees in late winter is important to control fruit production, and to minimize pest and disease issues. This includes tree species such as apples, plums, pears, mayday/ schubert chokecherries, and mountain ash.
Trees to Avoid Pruning in Winter
- Maple – These trees tend to “bleed”. This means that in the spring when sap begins to flow it will “leak” out of any cuts that are recent within the past few month. While this is not a health issue and does not harm the tree, it can be unsightly
- Birch – Like maple trees (mentioned above), these trees will bleed in the spring. Again, this is not unhealthy or “bad” for the tree, but it can be unappealing to look at.
- Lilac’s – Pruning lilacs in the winter removes the flowering buds for the upcoming season. Because of this the tree will not bloom in the spring if its been pruned before flowering.