When and Why to Prune Your Trees?

comments (0) November 7th, 2014

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AllisonTaylor AllisonTaylor, member
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     Proper tree pruning is beneficial for your trees and shrubs and sometimes it is even necessary. However it is important to know when it is suitable to prune your trees, and why. Improper trimming is dangerous both to the tree and to the person who is conducting it. Remove the wrong branch, and you may cause further damage, especially on a tree already affected by rot or disease. Prune too early and you force the tree to waste its energy. Prune too late, and you may destroy leaf and flower buds. Use the wrong technique, and you may injure yourself with a falling branch or worse.

Whether you book professional arborists or condone the tree pruning by yourself, procrastination is the key to success. It is always to trim late than early as in early fall, wounds close more slowly and pruned plants are at risk of fungal diseases. On the other hand, sensible pruning wars off pests and infections and provides plants with extra roots and energy reserves for new growth.


Tree pruning is done to remove parts of the plant which are no longer beneficial. There are different reasons to prune. Some of the reasons are functional and aim to optimise the energy efficiency of the plant. Others are health-related-to halt the spread of disease or rot. There are also reasons which are purely aesthetic and aim to enhance the appearance of the tree.

Pruning is sometimes done to encourage the plant to put energy into new growth. Remove old limbs and the tree will be forced to grow new ones, which revitalises the plant and keeps it young. This is also done to increase the number and quality of fruit, as old limbs do not produce fruits but consume nutrition. Pruning improves the circulation around the branches and allows both air and light to reach the lower and inner leaves of the tree.

When a tree is transplanted, pruning compensates for the loss of roots during the process. If the roots cannot provide enough nutrition for the crown of the tree, the plant will eventually die. This is also a way to control the new growth-removing a young branch is an easy way to prevent the tree from growing in undesired direction and to direct it to another. Last but not least pruning is a must when dealing with diseases such as Black rot, or Fire blight.


As we said, it is better to prune your trees later than too early. While most of us are eager to do this before the cold days of winter, pruning in early fall can cause slow-healing damage to the plants and may even stimulate new growth. Such new growth will have no protection against the winter cold and costs valuable resources which the tree can save for springtime.

The best time to prune trees is late fall and early winter. Trees become dormant during that period which prevents new growth and tenders wounds. It is also easier to identify any damage, insect infestation or disease on the tree as there are no leaves to obstruct the sight. Evergreen trees are best pruned during late winter as the growth of early spring plants will hide wounded branches.

However, there are several exceptions to the rule. Trees such as walnuts, birches, maples, elms and dogwoods should not be pruned during winter. These species should be pruned in late winter or early fall, as their wounds heal up more quickly. Also, any damaged or diseased part of the tree should be removed immediately to prevent further damage, regardless of the time of the year.

Should I Prune by Myself?

If you are still unsure whether or not your trees need pruning, it is always better to contact arborists to carry out this task for you. Tree pruning is a dangerous and highly specialised job and as much as gardening is our hobby, some tasks are better left in the hands of professionals.

posted in: tree care, tree maintenance, tree pruning, tree surgeons Sitting Bourne