Shoveling, plowing, sanding…and pruning?
A common misconception is that tree maintenance cannot be done during the winter months, or that tree care companies do not operate during this time of the year.
This has led to a surge of work for commercial tree care companies in the warmer months, and consequently, sometimes longer waits for homeowners trying to get their tree work completed.
While winter weather might make tree maintenance more difficult, there are tree care procedures that can be done during the winter months that will benefit the trees in the subsequent growing season.
“The leafless dormancy period of winter allows the trained arborist to more easily identify [dead or hazardous limbs],” explains Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP and staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Also, if the ground is frozen, then pruning activities will have a less damaging effect on the functional root zone of a tree.”
“The trees growth (including wound closure) slows significantly and does not begin again until the following spring,” adds Michael Joseph, CTSP, ISA Certified Arborist, and co-owner of Joseph Tree Service in Dublin, OH. “Research has shown that optimum would closure is achieved by pruning during the late winter and early spring, right before the flush growth of spring.”
Andersen and Joseph agree that winter tree work can help minimize potential problems stemming from pruning at the wrong time, such as destructive insects and fungal infections attacking at the spot of the wound left by pruning. Pruning during winter months allows for the healing to begin before the warmer months bring on these complications, giving the tree a much better chance of making an uninhibited recovery.
While winter tree work may appeal to the consumer trying to get ahead on their spring cleanup from the tough winter months, trees should be assessed on a case-by-case basis by a trained arborist. Improper timing of your tree’s pruning can lead to further complications, which can cause the tree to become a hazard to nearby residents rather than a beautiful piece of the landscape.
Hire a professional arborist or tree care company to evaluate your landscape and make recommendations.