Reasons NOT to trim in fall or winter
The cons of trimming a tree in the fall or winter include:
- Not being able to visually identify dead vs. live growth. This can be especially disorienting if you have a tree service doing the trimming. However, properly trained tree trimmers recognize live growth even when trees are bare by gauging the flexibility of branches and assessing growth marks on the bark.
- Different tree species especially in the Maple family will create lots of sap if trimmed to close to dormancy. Unfortunately this nuisance will not be readily apparent until the spring.
- Take into consideration that a wintering tree is living off of stored energy reserves. So any wood taken out may effect the overall reserves of the tree. By knowing the internal, systemic processes of the tree we can prune it without hurting the energy production mechanism.
The pros to pruning in fall and winter:
- Cheaper pricing.
- A dormant tree has less chance of spreading airborne fungi or other tree disease. For example, crabapple trees must be trimmed after all the leaves fall or you risk spreading fireblight to other branches or trees.
- Trees may also experience less of a shock to the system. In summer we recommend combining a trim with a fertilization treatment to minimize temporary loss of leaves. This is not a factor in winter.
- Tree trimming n winter also eliminates any temporary loss of shade and lush foliage. You may not realize, especially with your first arborist-led tree trim, how much wood may have to be taken out of a tree, especially if its been neglected. Since trees are already bare in winter, a trim is less noticeable so by the time summer rolls around, the tree will have had time to grow into its new trim.