A common assumption of many homeowners is that tree care companies don’t work very much in the winter. We’re all busy lounging around with drinks in a beautiful tropical location, right?
That’s very far from the truth! We’re often just as busy pruning trees in winter as we are the rest of the year. Tree work is a year round activity, even in cold weather areas like Wisconsin.
Some people misguidedly believe that tree pruning has the potential to harm trees during the winter. But, in reality, at any time of the year virtually all urban trees benefit from periodic pruning. We recommend pruning your trees every 3-5 years for a variety of reasons, including:
- Hazard Mitigation: Remove dead or dying branches before they fall and damage your property or other plants. Remove poor branch unions that may go unnoticed by the untrained eye can lead to branch or stem failure.
- Corrective Tree Pruning After Storm Damage: Your trees may not have fared very well in a recent storm. A certified arborist will take care of that obvious problem you’ve spotted and work to make sure there are no other hidden dangers.
- Improved Aesthetics: Think of arborists as an exterior designer. We’ll shape your trees to flow with the architecture of your home and landscape.
- Baseline for Effective Disease Monitoring: With mature trees it’s especially helpful to have a thorough pruning done and have all of the deadwood removed. This aides monitoring your trees for any large pockets of dead wood that may show up in the coming years.
Of course, this work can happen in the spring, summer and fall, but there can be some added benefits to waiting until the winter to prune the trees and shrubs on your property.
4 Reasons to prune trees in winter
Pruning in the winter certainly won’t hurt your tree. Rather, it has many benefits. These four reasons might just convince you to wait until the winter season to schedule your tree work with a local company.
Reduce the likelihood of disease infection
Here in Wisconsin, there are certain types of trees that should only be pruned in the winter to avoid disease contraction. Tree pruning and the removal of limbs results in open wounds that take time to heal. These areas are susceptible to disease transmissions.
At lower winter temperatures diseases and the insects that help spread some of them are dormant. For example, Oak Wilt is a fungal disease that can be spread through spores transported by sap feeding and wood boring insects. In the winter these insects are dormant, so there is less likelihood of them traveling between an infected tree and a tree with an open wound.
Dutch Elm Disease and Fire Blight, which affects fruit trees, are also more likely to spread in the spring, summer and fall.
In Wisconsin, the best period to prune oaks, elms and fruit trees is between the months of October and March. In spring, pruning should stop when daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees.
Certified Arborists can better evaluate structure
During the dormant period when the leaves have dropped it’s much easier to spot and prune broken, cracked, hanging, or competing limbs. Pruning trees in winter allows the tree to be assessed as a whole and properly pruned to retain its natural form.
The tree work process won’t be so hard on your landscape
As homeowners ourselves, we know how important your garden and landscape is to you, especially when it’s looking its best in the short spring and summer seasons in Wisconsin. For this reason we always take extra care to avoid disturbing shrubs and flowers when maneuvering around your yard. But, sometimes tricky removals necessitate us walking through garden areas in order to accomplish the job in the safest way.
This can often result in some minor damage to garden plants. Waiting to prune your trees outside of the gardening season will allow us to move more freely in your yard without having to worry about damaging a favorite plant.
Likewise, utilizing machines (such as our nifty articulating loader) helps us get a job done as efficiently and safely as possible. However, in warmer conditions when the ground is soft this machinery has the potential to damage your lawn (despite how careful we are). Pruning trees in winter when the ground is frozen results in less damage to you lawn. Your green grass will thank you in the Spring!
More time for wounds to seal and heal
During the tree pruning process when branches are removed inevitably there are wounds left behind where the branch was attached to the tree. A healthy tree will be able to seal these wounds over time. Winter pruning of trees means less stress for your tree. Even when dormant, trees are slowly healing their wounds. When Spring comes, the tree will be able to focus more energy on healthy new growth. Spring is the time for renewal!
For tree care companies, there are a few challenges that come along with pruning in the winter, like cleanup after a big Wisconsin snow! But for homeowners, the benefits to winter pruning are many and the drawbacks are few.
Here at Eco Tree Company, our Certified Arborists are happy happy to brave the winter elements in order to keep your trees healthy and your family safe! Contact us to book your free consultation.