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Tree Trimming Issues Every Denver Homeowner Should Be Aware of

September 19, 2018

Winter has arrived, and with it some tree trimming projects. If you are considering having your Denver home’s trees trimmed this winter, either due to to dormancy period or otherwise, there are a few issues to be aware of when taking on such projects. Your trees are your constant wooded companions, providing shade and ornamental properties to your landscape, and you want to take the utmost care in maintaining their health.

Knowing when to prune

The timing of any pruning project can be critical to its success, and it is essential for anyone interested in having their tree’s prune to carefully consider what is best for the plant. Certain trees can be pruned any time of the year, while others require pruning to be done during dormant periods. If you are unsure of what your tree requires, it is important to research the best method depending on the type of species.

For many deciduous plants, pruning in the late winter to early spring can be the ideal time, as it promotes vigorous growth during the spring. Mild, dry days are the best time to take on a pruning project. By pruning, you provide the plant with additional rote and energy reserves, which is invigorating for the growth of the organism.  Pruning in the winter gives you the added benefit of being able to see the branches more clearly, as the foliage is not present to provide any visual obstacles. 

Knowing which plants to prune

As stated earlier, it is important to know which plants require winter pruning and which do not. Winter is not always the most ideal to prune for all plants, but there are a number of plants where winter pruning is recommended. Here is a short list of plants to prune, courtesy of Rodale’s Organic Life:

Glossy abelia
Beauty berries
Camellias (after they finish blooming)
European hornbeam

Bradford and Callory pears
Bald cypress
Honey locust

How to Prune

If you are considering a more intensive pruning project, we recommend you seek out the services of one of our qualified arborists. But if you are considering taking on the task of pruning your plants yourself, there are a few things to be aware of.

With any pruning project, it is important to remove dead or dying branches and limbs, as these are unnecessarily depleting your plant of nutrients that could be better served elsewhere. You want to make sure to prune out diseased limbs immediately, as this could spread to other areas of the plant if not addressed. 

In these instances you will want to cut well below the diseased area to ensure that the disease is fully cut out. You will want to prune a diseased plant on a dry day, as water can spread the disease. For those that want to be extra cautious, a ten percent bleach solution can be utilized on all of your cutting tools to ensure none of the disease remains after you have finished pruning it.

It is important to cut branches that can be an obstacle to you in your daily life or for other landscaping activities, such as mowing the lawn. If branches interfere with these activities, pruning them back is important, not just for functional reasons but to avoid the inevitable situation where you damage the branch due to such activity.

If you see branches crossing, this is a likely candidate for pruning, as further growth may lead to a plant that is stressed and overgrown. In this scenario, prune the smaller branch. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind sunlight and oxygen exposure for your trees and shrubs when pruning. Prune plants so the middle of the organism is exposed to some amount of sunlight, as this allow light and air to enter to the center of your plant.

Take advantage of winter pruning benefits

Winter time is a beneficial period to consider having your tree or shrub pruned. Much like the plants themselves, diseases and pests also go through a dormancy period, which can decrease the likelihood that pruning will lead to any type of infestation or disease. Pruning exposes the plant to these elements, so cutting back your tree or shrub during this time can be a great way to add protection in this regard.

As mentioned earlier, the prospect of pruning any plant becomes less of a challenge when the leaves have fallen. A lack of foliage can provide any arborist a better idea of what cuts to make and also gives easier access to make any of these desired cuts. Often times, diseased or damaged branches can be hiding within the foliage of a plant, and engaging in pruning during the winter will greatly improve your ability to witness such issues.

Pruning in the late summer or fall can often times stimulate growth that may not be hardened prior to a cold front hitting. This can mean that the plant is more vulnerable to damage and disease as a result. During the winter time, this is not a concern, and properly time pruning projects can stimulate growth during the spring time, which is more ideal for the organism.

Have a plan before you prune

When engaging in a pruning project in the winter, it is important to have a clear idea of how you want to go about pruning your plant. Take into account the desired shape of the canopy and overall plant shape when thinking about pruning. There are two types of pruning techniques that are used with woody plants.

Thinning is when you entirely remove the branch back to another branch or the trunk of the tree. This method promotes better form and health for the plant, as it completely removes weaker parts of the plant and can allow for increased air penetration.

Heading back is when you shorten a branch back to a bud or side branch. This type of cut should be done without leaving behind a stub, which will eventually rot and fall off. Make a pruning cut at an angle slightly above the bud or side branch when employing this technique.

If you are interested in having your tree pruned this winter, or are simply curious to find out more about the health of your plants, contact Arbor Garden today to speak with one of our qualified professionals.