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Is It OK to Prune Trees in the Fall?

By John Stonaker, Nov 26 2019 12:18AM

Pruning encourages growth. Therefore, the very worst time to prune is in the fall, just as your trees are getting ready for a long winter’s nap. During autumn and heading into winter, your tree is transferring its energy to the roots. By pruning now and stimulating growth, you’re dividing the tree’s energy and weakening it by causing energy to transfer to the new growth. As the cold weather comes, the new growth has not had time to harden and will be more likely to suffer in the winter weather.

Besides causing new growth at just the wrong time, pruning can further weaken the tree because the tree doesn’t have the energy to properly seal and heal the damage from the cuts. Thus, a tree that’s pruned in the fall is more susceptible to disease and insect infestation – especially since insects are also looking for a nice place to settle for the winter, and a fresh cut looks to them like a wide-open door with a welcome mat.

So when do you prune? The best time is in later winter or as spring approaches. The tree is completely dormant, but the time of new growth and vigor is coming soon. If you have your tree properly pruned by an expert, the tree will be shaped in such a way that the new growth will create a beautiful, strong, and healthy branch structure for the new growing season. The wounds will heal quickly since the tree is at its peak period of energy and vigor, giving insects and disease little chance to settle in.

If you’re set on pruning before the winter cold settles in, wait until the leaves have fallen – and then wait a little longer. In fact, wait as long as you can, in order to give your tree a chance to fall asleep and the insects and disease a chance to die off. Again, only trust a certified tree specialist for these jobs. Doing your own pruning can compromise your own safety as well as that of the tree.

The exception to the no-pruning-in-the-fall rule is if there are damaged, diseased, or dead branches. If so, be sure to have the branches removed before the harsh weather of winter sets in to avoid branch loss that could damage people or property. Contact us here at Stonaker to see how we can help you keep your trees healthy and your property and loved ones safe.

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