Winter is the best time to prune trees to keep them healthy and protect them from disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Pruning trees when they are dormant is a way to protect them from diseases such as oak wilt or Dutch elm disease that are active during the growing season,” said Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist. “Also, it is easier to see which branches to remove when there are no leaves on a tree.”
Additionally, pruning in winter allows the tree to begin sealing the wound immediately at the start of the growing season. This decreases the amount of sap flow and provides a longer healing period.
Trees should be pruned when they are young because:
- Small branches create small wounds that will heal quickly.
- Defective branches are easier to spot on smaller trees.
- Most branches can be reached while keeping both feet on the ground.
Visit the tree care page for information on best pruning practices, step-by-step instructions and to watch videos on how to prune trees.
Common pruning mistakes include cutting branches flush to the trunk, leaving a branch stub and nicking and ripping the tree’s bark.
All of these situations lead to rot inside the tree and are likely to create a hazardous tree that is costly to remove.
Teegarden recommends hiring a certified arborist to prune trees for both safety and a tree’s health. Professional tree experts are trained to use best pruning practices that will keep trees healthy and looking good. Arborists can identify branches that have problems and ones that could be a future hazard.
A little investment into trees when they’re young can lead to beautiful trees that help cool homes in the summer, block them from winter winds and add character and property value.