Pruning Trees In Spring: What You Should Know

pruning trees in spring, person holding flowering tree branch

As the weather warms up and the sunshine settles in, many homeowners begin wondering, “can trees be pruned in spring?”

Whether you’ve been holding off on it, are considering it as part of your spring cleaning routine, or are now noticing the need for pruning, it’s a fair question to ask.

If you’ve been considering pruning your trees in spring, don’t worry, you’re not alone. To help, we’ve put together a guide where we answer your spring pruning questions.

What time of year is best to trim trees?

Pruning Tip: While there are a few outliers, generally the best time to prune both trees and shrubs is in the winter. Worried you missed the cutoff? You haven’t. You can still have your trees safely trimmed in the spring (more on this later).

Generally, pruning in the winter leads to the best results. When the growing season ends and the dormant season begins, it becomes easier for tree experts to assess a tree. Plainly visible branches help the tree doctor identify branches that are dead, dying, or diseased. Removing these hazardous branches help maximize the health of the tree and keep you and your family safe.

As winter is coming to an end, you may be worried that you missed out on the best time to trim. But here’s the good news: there isn’t a deadline for pruning trees. And, if you have your trees pruned soon, you can still take advantage of their bare branches in spring, before growth begins.

>> Learn more about why winter is the best time to trim trees

Can you trim a tree in the spring?

pruning trees in spring, white flowering tree branch

Here’s the bottom line: Any time your safety can be improved is the best time to have your trees trimmed.

Your safety and your property’s safety is the top priority. If you see any dead, dying, or diseased branches on your tree, you need to get them checked and taken care of as soon as possible. If they aren’t removed, they can fall and hit your loved ones or property.

We’re with you – protecting you and your family is the most important thing of all.

To prevent injury, it’s vital that your tree is properly assessed and taken care of by your trusted tree doctors, before the worst happens.

>> Here are the 8 signs your tree might be a safety hazard

You may be asking, “ok, but what about for aesthetics?”

In spring, there is a general rule to avoid trimming more than 10% of the tree. Pruning too much of the tree increases the tree’s risk of developing a pest infestation or disease.

This precise percentage is one of the reasons we recommend turning to your tree experts.

With help from an accredited tree service company, you can trust that your trees will be safely and efficiently trimmed at any time of the year – including in the spring.

Your Certified Arborist will discuss your concerns with you and determine the best type of trimming for your tree, so you can get the results you’re hoping for.

How late in the spring can you prune trees?

While certain tree species are best pruned in the winter or early spring, for other tree species it’s better to hold off on pruning until later.

The earlier, the better:

  • BEFORE BLOOMING: It’s best to prune spring flowering trees before their flowers buds bloom. A few examples include: magnolia, lilac, dogwood, flowering cherry, plum, crabapple, and apricot.
  • AVOID DISEASES: Certain species are more susceptible to diseases and should not be pruned in the spring. These include: oak (oak wilt), elm (Dutch Elm Disease), sycamore (Anthracnose), and honeylocust (stem cankers).
  • HELP FRUIT TREES: Pruning fruit trees earlier in spring will be better for fruit production and overall health. It’ll open up the canopy and help it flourish through the season.

Best saved for late spring or early summer:

  • AVOID SAP: By waiting until later in the season, you can dodge the messy sap that comes from certain trees, such as maple, walnut, and birch.
  • ENCOURAGE NEW GROWTH: If you have recently planted a new tree, spring trimming will be beneficial as it will help the tree gain stability and become more aesthetically pleasing for your landscape.

>> Wondering when your tree will start leafing this spring? Click here to find out.

Yes, pruning trees in spring can be done, and beautifully! Realized your trees are due for pruning? Our experts are here to help. Reserve an appointment online or call us at 703.573.3029 to meet with one of our Certified Arborists.

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