Is Fall a Good Time to Prune Trees?

October 1, 2020 10:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

One of the more common questions we receive from our clients concerns whether or not fall is the right time of year to prune trees. Our general recommendation is that no, you should not prune in the fall unless you have visibly dead branches, or branches that could potentially turn into a safety hazard during the freezing and thawing cycles of the winter. You’ll find this advice is consistent with that provided by most expert arborists.

But why is this? Here’s an overview of what you should know about the best time to trim trees in Newton, MA.

Pruning is all about timing

When the colder months of the year arrive, trees have to focus their energy toward their roots to be able to survive. This is why you see all the leaves fall off (for deciduous trees). But this also means that any cuts in the tree you make from pruning will not be able to heal properly, because the trees are focusing their energy elsewhere.

The longer cuts remain open and unhealed, the more vulnerable the tree is to potential disease, pests or stunted growth. This could result in long-term health impacts on the tree that could prevent it from growing appropriately, or could result in significant portions (or the entire tree) dying off.

You must keep in mind that pruning is a task that’s designed to encourage growth—therefore, pruning must be done during the growing season. Trees aren’t trying to grow during the fall, they’re simply trying to survive the winter months and the ensuing cold. This means pruning at this time will not assist in growth, and will only serve to weaken the tree.

You can still perform other tree maintenance tasks

Just because tree pruning is not an option during the fall and winter in Newton, MA doesn’t mean there aren’t other important tree care tasks you can take on during these seasons.

Raking and mulching are both simple, yet important, tasks that can help you protect your plants during the cold months, and help you provide some important nutrients to tree roots. Mulch also helps you preserve moisture, even in the particularly cold months.

Raking is important because leaving leaves on top of your lawn could result in diseases forming and spreading, which could have negative impacts on other trees or plants in the area. You can either mow over your leaves early in the fall, or rake them away. Leaves are great for composting, so you can recycle them and reuse them in your gardens, but you shouldn’t just let them sit on your lawn all winter long.

Watering your trees is also important, especially when you have young trees that are still rapidly growing. Trees can struggle to take in water from the frozen ground during the winter, but deeply watering your trees after the leaves fall but before the ground freezes can help you give them some important sustenance to last them through the harshness of winter.

For more information about the best time to prune and why you should avoid fall pruning in Newton, MA, contact the team at BBD Tree Service.

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