One of the questions certified arborist Mike Burge of Arborman Tree Care is asked is “When is the best time to prune trees?”
Edmonton is a unique climate and a lot of the guides out there do not take into account our “special” winters! Edmonton’s trees have to be a bit hardier than their southern cousins due to our extreme climate fluctuations. It is important to give them the best growing season possible due to how short they are!
During winter your trees enter a dormant phase which is the best time to alter the shape of a tree or shrub. It allows the tree to regrow faster in the spring. It is also easier to see the shape of the tree once the foliage is gone. Winter pruning is far better for your tree and for you since it requires less effort!
Here is your guide to Winter Tree Pruning, Edmonton edition!
- Make sure to prune only after the tree or shrub is dormant. If you prune too early the incisions can dry out when the temperature dips. This will cause serious damage to the tree over the cold winter.
- Get the right tools. With the right tools you will minimize the trauma on the tree as well as make your life much easier. Some basic tools you will need are lopping shears, pole pruners, possibly hedge shears and a pruning saw.
- Check for disease. Now that all of the foliage has fallen from the tree it is much easier to see the actual structure of the tree. Your pruning should involve inspecting for disease as well as excising any diseased branches.
- Shape your tree. Low branches on all evergreen trees can be easily removed when the tree is dormant. For deciduous trees make sure to prune unruly branches, dead limbs or problem branches. Try to eliminate weak or narrow crotches to promote the strongest branches. This also goes for double leaders. Remove the weaker one to promote the stronger one.
- Should you use a pruning sealer? The short answer is no. They reduce the trees ability to heal when the growing season starts again. Because we are pruning in winter the tree is already dormant. Just make sure you prune on a dry day to minimize wetness on the freshly pruned branches.
- Consult an expert. Pruning is one of those things that seems easy until you actually try it. Consult guides such as this one or call a Certified Arborist.
Here is a detailed guide on Proper Pruning Techniques if you are a do it yourselfer!
Pruning your trees will give it the shape, health, and aesthetic your space will appreciate!