The optimal time to prune your trees and shrubs is the fall, because of the improved visibility of limbs and that fact that plants have begun retreating into hibernation allowing you to prune damaged areas and encroaching limbs more easily without sending the plant into shock.
Why Prune Trees and Shrubs
No matter what size tree or shrub you have, they require periodic trimming to keep them healthy and attractive. Trees require low on the trunk sprouts, known as sucklers, to be removed in the spring to promote growth higher up, but in the fall they need a thorough and well thought out pruning to remove damaged limbs or starter limbs that will lead to damage as they get larger.
Before you begin to cut any limbs or branches it is important to know what to look for. Take a visual review of your tree or shrub to see where there maybe branch clustering or crossover. These are areas that will need to be addressed.
Areas where limbs bump up against each other or will as the limbs increase in size are areas that need particular attention in order to remove new branches that will scrape bark from more established branches as they mature. This will prevent overcrowding that will affect the amount of sunlight that lower branches receive as well as minimize growth damage.
Remove any limbs that have missing bark or broken sections to minimize fungus and disease from taking hold. This also prevents insect infestation from having an open wound to attack and make a home in.
To prevent causing damage as you prune your trees and shrubs, you should always cut limbs and branches as close to the trunk as possible. This provides quicker bark healing, as well as less trauma to the plant.
For smaller stems, foliage, or branches make your cuts as close to the next largest limbs connecting joint as possible. This is done for the same reasons as trimming close to the trunk for larger limbs.
The best time to fall prune is after all of the foliage and any fruit or flowers have fallen from the tree. Doing so assures that your tree is entering the dormant stage as well as provides you with better visibility of your tree’s or shrub’s limb structure as you decide which branches need to be removed.
This is a great time to take a look at your tree or shrubs shape to see if it needs to be re-shaped or cutback to avoid roof and fence damage. This kind of pruning is for long-term growth, so make sure you have a clear picture of where you want your branches to flourish and where you want your tree to avoid growing before you prune larger more established growth areas.
Lastly, when pruning larger limbs or making substantial cuts to your trees, cover larger open wounds with tree bandaging or bandaging solutions that you can purchase at your local garden or home center. This prevents fungus causing moisture and insects from attacking your tree.