Dormant Pruning, what it is and why it is so important…

You may dread the thought of late fall and winter elements, but for your trees and shrubs, it’s the moment they’ve been waiting for all year!

Your Trees and Shrubs Need Your Attention All Year Long

The dormant season temporarily slows tree growth, which may sound damaging, but in reality it provides opportunity. Pruning in winter is an ideal time to promote health and future growth.

This is just one of the few misconceptions around the best time to prune your trees and shrubs. You’re enjoying the benefits of your property during the spring and summer when growth is active, and more likely to notice any unsightly appearances caused by new spring growth. This often becomes a nuisance to homeowners.

Clients also assume that trimming can’t be completed during the winter due to safety concerns of snow and ice. Arborists actually have optimal access when trees and shrubs are dormant. Limbs are lighter and easier to handle, and leafless structures are easier to see.

So why is this timely trimming just what your trees and shrubs want? Their inactivity coupled with the outdoor elements provide many reasons.

Reasons Why Dormant Pruning is Where It is At!

Dormant pruning helps support disease management.

While pruning in warmer spring and summer temperatures can cause certain diseases to spread, a fresh cut in the dormant season makes the tree less likely to attract disease-carrying insects and spread disease because they aren’t active at this time. Also, the presence of some diseases is easier to spot on a bare tree. Fresh pruning cuts and bruises are less likely to attract disease-­carrying insects or spread disease, such as oak wilt and dutch elm disease.

The trees and shrubs have a foundation for the upcoming spring, so spring growth can be healthier and ready to enjoy at the start of the season.

Pruning when leaves are absent makes it easier to improve the branching pattern and direct future growth. This is because things like crossing or rubbing branches that will cause long term harm are easy to spot and cut out.  Trees can be at their healthiest when maintained during dormant ­season before new growth begins in spring. Conversely, Pruning after the onset of new growth in the spring can limit the plant’s bloom potential for the year if they are flowering shrubs.

Winter pruning creates greater convenience for you and your property.

During winter, minimal maintenance is needed for your lawn and landscaping, so there is no intrusion on active growth as there would be during spring. Once the weather breaks, there will be no shortage of yard work on your to-do list or entertaining and fun to be had. By scheduling ahead, you eliminate some tasks when you just want to be outside enjoying your property.

Dormant pruning saves time and money.

With the cold weather providing a harder ground, arborists have easier access to the tree using equipment for larger shade tree pruning. This more efficient method of pruning saves time and saves you money.

A more precise prune is possible.

Leaf drop throughout the fall season makes branches easier to see, so there is easy access to prune a tree at its core. This provides the most time-efficient solution for you.

Dormant pruning keeps trees sustained through the season.

Getting rid of dead, weak or damaged branches clears that tree of areas that may break off in winter weather.  These damaged limbs are what invites disease, insects and promises rot back into healthy tissue.  A jagged break off a limb leaves much more surface area that the tree or shrub needs to heal where a clean cut from a proper pruning techniques can heal much easier.  Think of it like you trying to heal a cut from something jagged vs a sharp knife, they are dealing with the same thing.

Spring growth can be healthier and ready to enjoy at the start of the season.

Trees can be at their healthiest when maintained during dormant ­season before new growth begins in spring. Conversely, pruning after the onset of new growth can limit the plant’s bloom potential for the year.

Dormant pruning pulls double duty by causing less stress on trees, and allowing for robust new growth in plants that bloom in the spring and summer.

Let’s talk about renovation/ rejuvenation pruning while we are at it.

Do you have a shrub that’s so overgrown that it’s growing into your house, impeding on a walkway, or growing into other plants? Before removing the shrub, consider rejuvenation pruning. Dormant season is the perfect time to perform rejuvenation pruning.

The importance of pruning has been well-documented. Pruning or trimming has many benefits for your landscape, including maintaining plant health, restricting growth (and overgrowth), “training” plants and improving the quality of a plant’s flowers, fruit, foliage or stems.

But what is renovation pruning and how does it differ from typical pruning?

Renovation pruning is a more severe method of pruning. Generally, this means drastic cuts to the shrub to near ground level, leaving stubs a few inches to a foot above grade. If reasonable, we leave a few stems or suckers growing from the removed canes. This enables the shrub to produce new growth quickly the next season.

Rejuvenation pruning on the other hand is a 3-5 method of removing the old, overgrown limbs so that the plant can grow new, vigorous branches in their place. Plants that require rejuvenation can be hard pruned or pruned gradually depending on the plant material species. Most shrubs need annual pruning to keep them from overgrowing their surroundings and developing thick, unproductive branches. Once a shrub is overgrown, the usual thinning and trimming methods won’t correct the problem. The result of rejuvenation pruning is like replacing the old shrub with a new one.

Want to avoid renovation or rejuvenation pruning?  That’s easy- select the right plant material for the right spot and let it do its thing!  Unfortunately, we often find the wrong materials too close to the house or walkway and the happy shrub has just outgrown its area.