You may think that the approach of the end of the growing season means you can stop worrying about the trees in your landscape. Think again!
Fall and winter are excellent times to examine the safety and health of your trees because with the leaves off, cracks, defects and deadwood are easier to see. “Most trees can be pruned year-round,” says Robert Ruse, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, “and certain operations are easier to do when dead branches are easily seen and removed.”
Some homeowners worry that arborists will not be able to determine deadwood on a tree when the leaves are off. On the contrary, this is the best time for our arborists to locate deadwood by looking for changes in color, fungus growth, cracks, and other symptoms. Since the leaves are off, the view of the entire tree’s architecture is clear and a thorough check can be performed.
One advantage to pruning in fall rather than winter is that fall is the last window of opportunity to remove hazard situations before winter storms arrive. It is certainly better to be proactive rather than reactive to possible storm hazards. However, one of the positives of winter pruning is the ground is often frozen, which makes it less likely for turf damage to occur during pruning.
Whether in fall or winter, pruning is much more than the simple act of sawing off limbs. Proper pruning is an art based on scientific principles of plant physiology. At its most basic level, pruning trees involves removed damaged, dead or structurally weak limbs, which will improve a tree’s health and reduce the chances of personal or property damage caused by falling limbs.
Professional certified arborists have the capability to make the tree safer and more attractive by pruning live growth as well. Proper pruning channels growth, increases flower and fruit production, improves plant health, repairs damage and helps add aesthetic appeal to a tree. Pruning at the right time and in the right way is critical, since it is possible to kill a tree through neglect or over-pruning.