Pruning Trees in the Winter? Yes or No and the Things You Need to Know

Long has there been a myth about winter tree pruning being a big no no. No one ever seems to remember when or who they heard it from, but it has been a rule in their gardening book for years. In fact, winter is one of the best times to trim and prune dormant trees.

Pruning your trees during their cold, dormant months is actually one of the best times to remove dead or unwanted branches. When pruned properly during this season, it can promote good growth and overall health of you tree along with appeasing the shape of the tree the way you want.

Some species of trees go dormant in the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing to help manage their water. Their whole systems will go into a hibernated state slowing down their metabolism, growth, and energy consumption, this is what makes the winter an idyllic time to prune certain trees. As always there are always exceptions to any rule, they type of tree or your geographical area, but overall, the fact is these trees are not growing during this time.

Here is a list of trees species that go dormant over the winter in our region:

  • Oak
  • Cherry Trees
  • Plum Trees
  • Maple Trees
  • Poplar
  • Apple Trees
  • Ash Trees
  • Birch Trees

Winter Pruning Tips

The best time to tackle you tree pruning goals is the later winter of very early spring when daytime temperatures are just above the freezing point. If you want to perform an aggressive prune on a tree you want to do that in late winter this ensure the tree is not entering into their spring wake up. All pruning needs to be completed before any new growth is observed. This gives the plant the opportunity to put its energy into new growth branches when the warmer spring weather comes.

Here are some things to consider when

  • Never prune too early in the winter, as incisions can dry out if the temperature drops well below freezing.
  • When pruning, first prune out dead and diseased branches, especially those caused by the winter’s snow and ice.
  • Unwanted lower branches on all evergreen shrubs and trees should also be removed in late winter.
  • Remove overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the crown of the tree.
  • The overall goal is to keep the branches that develop or maintain the structure of the tree.
  • Cut branches at the node, the point at which one branch or twig attaches to another.

Benefits of Pruning Trees in the Winter Months

There are many reasons to pruning trees wile they are dormant in the winter months, some are:

  • A chance to improve tree health due to insects being less active in cold temperatures
  • Decreased risk of stress for the tree due to pruning
  • No foliage allows you to better shape canopies and shape trees without obstructions.
  • Reduced time fresh cuts are exposed before healing begins in spring
  • Easier to identify and remove any dead, dying, or diseased wood
  • Cold temps will reduce the potential of insect infestation or other diseases to harm your trees.
  • Easier to access any branches that need to be removed

Before Pruning You Trees

Before you run out and start cutting branches there are some things to consider before you trim trees during the winter. Here are some tips There are several considerations or processes that should be respected when trimming or pruning trees during the winter. These practices would consist of:

  1. All dead, dying, or diseased branches should be removed first
  2. Don’t leave small stubs, this could lead to disease or infestation
  3. By removing crowed branches, you will promote better air flow and allow sunlight penetration
  4. Areas where branches overlap, remove the thinner ones
  5. All pruning activities should have the final tree shape and weight balance in the plan
  6. Cut back branches overhanging structures to reduce the risks of storm damage
  7. Winter tree trimming or pruning must be performed with care and attention to maintain the health and strength of the tree. If property owners are uncertain on how to properly prune their trees or what branches should be removed, they would benefit from calling an experienced tree care provider like Belleville Tree Care

The overall care and health of your trees should be at the forefront of your mind when planning to trim in the winter months. At Belleville Tree Care, your trees health and safety on your property is our focus. Maintaining your trees is just one of the many services we offer and would be happy to have a professional tree care specialist assist you in maintaining your properties trees.

Belleville Tree Care can help with all winter tree care needs. Customers are welcome to call us at 343-312-5535 or visit our website at