If you’re like most Denver homeowners, you’re probably wondering when and how to trim your trees for winter. Well, wonder no more! In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive winter tree trimming guide for our fruiting and flowering trees. Keep in mind that the following tips are just general guidelines – always consult a professional arborist before undertaking any major tree trimming project!
What Are the Benefits of Winter Tree Trimming?
The winter months can be harsh on Denver’s fruiting and flowering trees. It is important to trim them correctly so that they remain healthy and look their best. Winter tree trimming has many benefits, including:
- Protecting the tree from winter damage
- Promoting new growth in the spring
- Increasing the tree’s overall lifespan
- Decreasing the chance of tree disease or infestation
Denver experiences weather extremes in the winter months. Ice and snow storms can deal major damage to fruiting and flowering trees. But winter tree trimming helps protect these trees from winter damage by removing broken or damaged branches in advance and reducing the tree’s wind resistance.
Promoting new growth is another benefit of winter tree trimming. Removing damaged or diseased branches encourage the tree to put its energy into producing new, healthy growth in the spring.
It may seem counterintuitive, but proper pruning and trimming of fruiting and flowering trees during the winter does increase their lifespan. Removing the old compromised or diseased branches helps the tree stay stronger and healthier for longer.
Pests are lying in wait over winter, but come late spring and early summer they will be out in full force! A properly pruned and a trimmed tree is better prepared to defend itself because it is not expending valuable resources on sickly or non-productive growth.
Beware of the following pests that prey on Denver’s fruiting and flowering trees:
- Japanese Beetles: these insects primarily attack trees that are already stressed. They will skeletonize the leaves of the tree, leaving only the veins behind.
- Aphids: these tiny pests excrete a sticky substance called honeydew that can attract other pests and also promotes the growth of sooty mold on trees.
- Mites: these spider-like creatures feed on plant sap, causing the leaves to appear stippled or discolored.
- Tent Caterpillars: these caterpillars build webbing in the branches of trees and feast on the leaves.
- Borers: these pests tunnel under the bark of trees, causing extensive damage. To prevent these pests from damaging your trees, it is important to trim them properly for winter.
To reap all the possible benefits, be sure to follow winter tree trimming best practices!
Denver Winter Tree Trimming Best Practices
Winter tree trimming is an important part of keeping your Denver area trees healthy and strong. Use these winter tree trimming tips to ensure that your trees make it through the winter months without any problems:
Identify the Tree’s Species
Denver fruiting trees are typically pretty easy to identify. However, flowering trees can be a bit trickier. Here are identification tips for some of Denver’s most popular flowering trees:
- Japanese tree lilac can be identified by its clusters of small, white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer.
- Serviceberry trees have small, white flowers that appear in early spring. They also have dark purple or black berries that ripen in late summer or early fall.
- Mock orange trees have large, showy flowers that are white with a yellow center. These flowers bloom in late spring or early summer.
- Redbud trees have small, pink, or purple flowers that bloom in early spring.
- Amur Maple trees have small, red flowers that bloom in early spring.
The best way to be sure is to take a sample of the leaves or flowers to your local nursery or expert arborist. Once you know what kind of tree you have, you can determine the best winter pruning practices for that particular species.
Determine the Tree’s Age
Knowing how old your tree is will help you decide how much winter pruning it can handle. As a general rule, young trees (up to five years old) should not be pruned at all during the winter. For older trees, you can remove up to one-third of the tree’s branches.
How can you determine your tree’s age? If it was planted within the last five years, its age is easy to determine. If your tree is older than that, you can try counting the annual growth rings on a cut branch. Each ring represents one year of growth.
Assess the Overall Health
Before you start winter pruning, it’s important to take a close look at your tree’s health. If the tree is already struggling, winter pruning could do more harm than good. Be on the lookout for signs of stress, such as:
- Excessive leaf drop
- Dead branches
- Cracks in the trunk
If you’re not sure whether your tree is healthy enough to withstand winter pruning, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult a certified arborist.
Consider the Tree’s Function
When deciding how much to prune, it’s also important to think about the tree’s purpose. If you’re growing fruit trees, for example, you’ll need to do more winter pruning than if you’re growing ornamental trees.
The next step is to find the “leader” branch. All trees have a dominant or “leader ” branch, which is the tallest and most central branch. Once you’ve located the leader, you can begin pruning.
Make a Clean Cut
When trimming your tree, it’s important to make sure that all cuts are clean. A clean cut will heal quickly and help prevent the disease from taking hold in the wound. To make a clean cut, trim at a 45-degree angle, just above a node (where the leaves attach to the stem).
The best tools to use are sharp pruning shears or a sharp saw. dull tools can damage the tree and make it more susceptible to disease.
Be Careful Not to Over-prune
When winter pruning, you should never remove more than one-third of the tree’s branches. This will help ensure that the tree remains strong and healthy. Removing too much can shock the tree and make it more susceptible to disease and pests.
Keep a Count of Your Yearly Cuts
You should keep track of how many cuts you make to the tree each year. This will help you know when the tree is nearing its maximum number of cuts and needs to be left alone for a while. winter pruning is a delicate balance, and too much pruning can damage the tree.
Get Ahead of Storm Damage
One of the major benefits of effective winter tree trimming is getting ahead of winter storm damage. Every year, winter storm damage costs homeowners and businesses billions of dollars in the US. Here are a few startling statistics on common property damage caused by fallen limbs or trees after winter storms:
- 40% of all winter storm damage to property is caused by falling limbs or trees
- Winter storms account for more than $200 million in insured losses each year in the US
- Wind and ice are the most common causes of winter tree damage
While you can’t prevent all winter storm damage, you can take steps to reduce the risk of damage to your property. One way to do this is by trimming trees that are close to power lines or buildings.
Another way to reduce winter storm damage is by pruning trees that are weak or have dead branches. These branches are more likely to break off in a winter storm and cause damage.
By trimming these trees before winter, you can help reduce the risk of winter storm damage to your property.
The Right Time for Tree Trimming
Not all trees need to be trimmed in the winter, but there are some that benefit from winter pruning. These include:
- Fruiting and flowering trees: Fruiting and flowering trees need to be trimmed in the winter to promote new growth in the spring.
- Trees with weak or dead branches: Trimming these branches will help reduce the risk of winter storm damage.
Although we typically feel spurred on to begin landscaping projects in spring, after things thaw out, spring is a terrible time for tree trimming. This is because the sap is running at this time of year, which can cause stress and damage to the tree. It also can hinder the tree’s ability to properly heal.
Winter is actually the best time to prune most trees since they are dormant. Trimming trees during the winter months is a best practice because it will help promote new growth in the spring.
Winter is the best time to give your trees the TLC they need to stay healthy and beautiful for years to come! If you have any questions about how to properly prune or trim your fruiting or flowering trees, consult with one of our experienced certified arborists. And don’t forget, improper pruning can damage your trees beyond repair – so always err on the side of caution.
Schedule Your Winter Tree Trimming Today!
Happy winter tree trimming!