Pruning is essential in maintaining the health, beauty and structural integrity of your trees. When properly pruned, your trees become more aesthetically appealing and enjoy an overall increase in health and vitality. However if the pruning is done incorrectly or at the wrong time of year you may injure or even kill the tree.

As a general rule it is best to perform large scale crown reduction on oaks and other hardwoods when the tree is dormant. The dormant period varies from region to region, but in the mid Atlantic it generally begins just after leaf drop around Thanksgiving and lasts until early spring. This is the period in which stress factors such as insect and disease pathogens are less numerous and are less likely to attack your tree. If you only wish to selectively remove a few branches or Cut the tree back from a building or other structure, this can safely be done throughout the year. Dead, dying and diseased branches should be removed promptly once they are detected.

Birch and maple trees should be similarly pruned during the dormant season. Although they may exhibit heavy “bleeding” from the resulting wound, this is of little concern. If you wish to avoid the “ bleeding” these trees may be pruned in late spring or early summer, once the leaves have fully expanded.

Pine trees should be pruned a little later, as the new growth begins to emerge. Shearing of most evergreens should be performed in late spring and early summer, although selective pruning is preferred as it makes cleaner cuts. Shearing tends to rip and tear branches leaving jagged wounds which are less likely to properly heal. It also becomes much more difficult to maintain the shape of sheared trees and shrubs as they grow larger.