Common Winter Tree Pruning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Even in the harsh, cold winter trees will stand solid in their foundation until they can bloom again in the spring. But even the toughest tree could use some help surviving the difficult season.

One of the most important things you can do to help your trees thrive is pruning. When you cut off any broken, damaged, or poorly placed branches, you give the tree the opportunity and boost to grow back even bigger and stronger when the weather changes again.

But pruning can also leave the tree vulnerable and cause it to die when done improperly. Avoid these winter tree pruning mistakes to make sure you’re only helping the beloved tree!

Waiting Too Late in the Season

It’s true that winter is a great time to get some pruning done on your trees. But waiting too long into the season can make it much more difficult. As the weather gets colder, it can take a lot more effort to cut the branches than if you started when temperatures first started dropping.

We suggest handling these tasks as soon as the majority of your leaves have fallen. The key is just to be able to get a good idea of what the branches look like without all the distractions.

Getting these jobs done early on will also save you from having to be out in extremely cold temperatures as well!

Poorly Planning the Cuts

Believe it or not, there is an art to the tree-pruning process that you don’t want to mess up. Making the wrong cuts on your trees can cause damage that will take the tree several years to recover from if it ever does at all.

Cutting the branches off too close to the trunk and removing the collar takes away the trunk’s natural barrier. This leaves it vulnerable to infection or other damage. On the other hand, leaving too big of a stump by cutting too far away from the trunk can make it difficult for the tree to recover. Finding balance is key so your tree can experience the benefits of winter tree pruning.

Using Low-Quality Tools

As with any job, the right tools can make all of the difference when cutting tree branches. A sharp, strong blade will make precise cuts that give the tree the best opportunity to thrive. Where a dull blade can make uneven, disjointed cuts that not only look bad but can be difficult for the tree to recover from as well.

Before you begin your job, test out your blades to make are everything is in working order and ready to go!

Leaving the Trunk Exposed

While the main focus of winter tree pruning is the branches that need help, it’s important to not completely ignore the trunk.

The tree pruning method you choose to go with can make a big difference in how well the trunk survives the pruning. You should try to only make cuts that will have the branches fall away from the trunk to avoid causing damage to the bark. When the bark is shed unnaturally, it has a difficult time growing back.

This is especially true in those long winter months, which means that the trunk will be vulnerable to pests or illness when spring rolls around.

Topping the Tree

Most people with trees want them to grow as tall as possible to provide the best shade for their property. Sometimes, this isn’t possible and it’s key to keep your tree’s growth in check by cutting off the too tall branches.

While getting this job done, it’s key to avoid topping the tree which means you just cut off all the tallest branches.

Doing this immediately sends the tree into shock where it will put all its energy into repairing those areas instead of new growth. The end results are unsightly and can ruin your tree. It’s better to go in with a more strategic plan to reduce the overall size by cutting a variety of branches and lengths.

Taking on an Expert Level Job

Cutting off some branches on your dormant tree sounds like an easy enough job. When in reality, there is a lot of planning and strategy that goes into the task. The worst mistake you can make is taking on a job that should have clearly been left to the professionals.

Tree trimming professionals can help you maintain your trees’ beauty while also preparing them to survive the difficult winter months.

Not to mention how much more comfortable you’ll be watching the pruning from inside your warm home than trying to manage everything out in the cold. Getting the professionals involved is better all around!

Doing Nothing

With so many things that can go wrong in your winter tree pruning, it’s tempting to leave your trees as-is and hope for the best. This can be a huge mistake with serious consequences for the life and health of your trees. Taking no action can sometimes be the worst path to take.

Pruning gives your trees the best opportunity to continue to put out healthy new growth each year. It clears them of any unnecessary baggage that’s holding them back or leaving them vulnerable to disease or pests.

Winter Tree Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

Taking action and avoiding these tree pruning mistakes will help ensure that it comes back stronger and better in the spring. You’ll be amazed at the new, healthy branches that pop up and how much fuller it appears.

Winter is the perfect time to take care of these tasks because you don’t have any blooms or leaves in the way and you can clearly determine which branches need to go. It’s also very helpful to get the advice of a professional with expert knowledge. They’ll be able to walk you through your best options to keep your tree going for decades to come.

Our team has that knowledge and is ready to help you prune your trees in the most effective way. If you’re interested in seeing what our arborists would suggest for your trees, contact us today!