The Time to Trim Your Trees is Late Winter
We’re nearly into March, so spring is right around the corner. If you are needing to trim your deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in autumn), you should do so now because late winter, right before spring is the optimal time.* Here is our guide on how and when to prune them.
pictured: Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) trimming
Why Trim Now?
If you trim your trees too early in the winter (November or December), the trees will be susceptible to cracking because moisture will enter the tree wound. Moisture then expands and contracts as it freezes and melts, thus causing winter damage.
Bugs are hardly active during the winter months, so trimming your trees in late winter before spring will allow for the tree to heal before bugs can cause damage to the tree on its vulnerable cuts.
When trees lose their leaves in autumn, they store all of their nutrients in their trunk for reserve until they bud out in the spring. It’s important to trim your trees during this time because your tree won’t have any sap loss and will not harm its growth.
pictured: Recently trimmed #30 Scarlet Oaks at our container facility in Ottawa, KS
How to Trim
1. Trim to the next bud.
On the branches, look for the next bud and cut right before it. Not only will it allow the tree to still have new growth, it will also help promote growth.
2. Make a cut at a 45 degree angle
It’s important to cut the branches at a 45 degree angle because it will force water to run off the cut rather than sit on it. This will help prevent moisture damage and disease.
3. Clean tools between trees with bleach
Some trees may be carrying disease that you may not know about. In order to stop the spread disease, make sure you clean your trimming tools with bleach before every new plant (this goes for shrubs as well).
Some trees bleed excessively when pruned. They should be pruned in early fall before it starts freezing because the insects are slowing down and won’t be after the sap nearly as much as when they are coming out of diapause. These are the tree families to trim in the fall: Aceraceae family (Maple), Ulmaceae family (Elm and Zelkova), Betulaceae family (Birch), and Honey Locusts. Follow the same trimming procedures though.
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