The Best Time to Prune Trees

Prune trees topeka emporia
Pruning late in the dormant period is typically the best for most trees.

We are often asked, “When time is the best time to prune trees?” The answer can vary depending on the desired effects of the pruning, and the type of plant being pruned. The general answer is prune trees in late winter or early spring.

Why Prune Trees February-March? (Science, That’s Why!)

  • Trees are dormant at this time.
    • That means that pests are also dormant and pose little risk to the tree.
    • There are no leaves so arborists can see better to plan cuts.
    • It is easier to see defects in the tree.
  • This is just before the growing season starts.
    • Trees recover faster if pruned before the flush of growth in the spring.
    • Energy is not lost to the flush of growth if pruned prior to bud break.
    • Pruning just after the flush of new growth can stress plants.
      • This is due to much of the stored energy being used to produce the new foliage which is then removed with pruning.

Some people are concerned that when the tree is dormant we cannot tell the difference between live and dead wood, but our trained arborists can distinguish between the two. We look at buds and bark condition to tell the difference.

What if I Need to Prune Trees Some Other Time?

Most trees can be pruned at any time of the year with little to no negative consequences. There are special circumstances that would limit pruning such as oak wilt or very stressed trees. Dead and broken branches can be removed at any time and do not count against the total removal of wood (in general no more than 25% of live tissue should be removed in any given year).

If your trees need pruned contact us to schedule an appointment today.


For more information check out this article from the University of Florida.

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