Three Mistakes to Avoid When Winter Tree Pruning

Winter tree pruning

One of the best times to trim a tree is during late winter. Winter is ideal because the tree has entered its dormant period, making pests and disease less of a threat and ensuring that its foliage has fallen off, leaving the tree’s shape and branches visible. Trimming a tree correctly can prepare it for a healthy growth come spring while improper pruning can cause some serious damage. Read on to learn more about the potential mistakes you can make while winter tree pruning.

1. Topping

This is the number one mistake you can make when trimming a tree in any season. Topping is the act of cutting back the limbs of a mature tree to down to stubs for height reduction. Think of it as a buzz-cut for a tree. The tree’s natural reaction to topping is to go into survival mode by restoring its canopy of leaves with new, unhealthy, unattractive vertical shoot growths. The tree eventually goes back to its former height, but becomes weaker and loses its former shape. Instead, try cabling or bracing, trim larger limbs back to a lateral branch, or incremental crown pruning.

2. Trimming bleeding trees

Winter is the best time to trim most trees, but certain sappy trees are best pruned in the summer or fall. Birch, dogwood, elm, maple, and walnut trees can make a sappy mess when cuts are made in the late winter. Although it’s not injurious to these trees, waiting until the weather warms up can save you a lot of cleanup time.

2. Flush cuts

This method of tree pruning can cause injury to a tree. Flush cuts are when a tree branch is cut too close to the trunk, damaging the branch collar (the place where a tree limb attaches to the trunk). Flush cuts create a cavity that can slowly decay, making the tree vulnerable to disease and pest infestations. When trimming, leave more of the crown intact to avoid cutting “flush” to the tree trunk.

Need more advice about winter tree pruning?

Contact a qualified professional at Elite Tree Care for further tips on these tree-trimming mistakes. Call us at 610-935-2279 today for a free consultation.

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