One of our favorite things about trees is that they don’t require the maintenance that other things like grass or annuals do. Once they’re well-established, they don’t even need watering; they get their nutrition straight from the taproots.
However, the truth is that there’s still some baseline maintenance that needs to be done even on the best trees. One of those maintenance tasks is pruning. However, it might be wise to call in a pro to help you.
Why Fall Is the Best Time for Pruning
Most professionals acknowledge that the best time for pruning is during late autumn. That means you should look into it this month and plan for it in November. This has a few benefits. It’s important to prune only when the tree is in hibernation. This protects the tree from the shock it would experience if you prune when trees are actively growing and absorbing nutrients. Additionally, waiting until the leaves drop allows you to see the true form of the tree underneath all of its foliage, which helps you make better cutting decisions. Pruning in late autumn also helps your tree conserve energy during the long winter, and it takes advantage of the fact that most insects and fungi that could hurt your vulnerable newly-pruned tree are also in hibernation.
Advantages of Pruning
- Prevents damage: During the seasons’ change, it’s easy for branches to break and crack, either under the weight of snow or under the stress of windy storms. These breaks can create major damage to both your property (like a car or the roof or windows of your house) and to the tree itself. Prune these branches before winter storms hit.
- Better fruit and flower yield: If your tree has decorative blossoms, or bears fruit, you can get better results out of it with regular pruning. Pruning has been shown to increase the amount of flowers and fruits that a tree produces. It also can improve the quality of the fruit.
- Shaping and guiding: Especially during the beginning phases of a tree’s life, it’s important to watch how the tree grows and develops. Pruning will allow you to encourage thicker growth, and a more beautiful and stable shape.
- Better nutrition and growth: One common form of pruning is crown pruning, wherein foliage from the top of a tree is cut back in order to encourage more growth. This helps the tree grow upwards more, but it also allows for more growth on the lower levels of the tree, since there’s more access to sunlight farther down.
Safety and Tips
It’s important to be safe while pruning trees. Never prune around electrical or utility lines; instead, contact the utility company so they can take care of it themselves. Some pruning jobs will require a ladder, tougher cutting tools, and even a cherry picker. If you’re not experienced in tree care, it might be smartest to leave the job to the professionals.