Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get some of that summer yard work done and out of the way during those “wasted” winter months? The good news is that you can! A majority of deciduous plant material can be pruned any time after there has been at least one hard freeze. Then not only is it convenient for you to get the pruning done but it can also be better for the trees & shrubs involved.
One of the main things we look to prune in winter is fruit trees. Fruit trees are one of the few mature trees that require some amount of pruning each year. This is especially true for any of our stone fruit type trees, they generally produce on last years wood and will bud out for more fruit than the tree is capable of sustaining. Apple trees produce on wood that is 2 years old and older on small outgrowths called spurs. If the pruner is not careful to leave these spurs they can end up with a good looking tree that will not be producing any fruit for the next year or two.
The other type of tree we look to prune are those that have a high sap-flow in spring. Namely your birch, maple and elm trees. Please note, these trees will not suffer damage by being pruned in the spring. The reason we try to prune them in the winter is because of the sticky sap. This sap seeps out of pruning cuts and drips down to make a sticky mess on anything left beneath.
When it comes to winter pruning for shrubs there are a few rules of thumb. The first is to trim those plants that will flower in the summer months or those grown mostly for their foliage: burning bush, dogwood, ninebark, barberry, honeysuckle and peashrub to name a few. The second rule is to look for shrubs which might need rejuvenation pruning, aka, flush cutting. Good candidates would be an old lilac that has a lot of large/ dead wood in the middle or a pussywillow that has completely taken over the space it was placed in. A well timed rejuvenation prune will maximize the next years growth while minimizing the impact of the missing plant. Lastly we do not recommend trimming most evergreens during the winter as they will not go fully dormant and will then be vulnerable to tip burn.
Taking time to prune in the winter can give us homeowners a significant head start on our spring yard work. It can also be more cost effective as off-season pricing goes into effect throughout January, February and most of March. If you think you might be interested in getting a jumpstart on your workload or even if you just have a question about timing please feel free to give our office a call at (208)523-5296!