Late Winter Is an Ideal Time to Prune Landscape Trees

pruning tree

January 28, 2020, 9:49 am | Jeffery Iles
 
 

AMES, Iowa – Once the snow and ice begin to melt, Iowans should be able to get an early start on at least one aspect of property care: pruning trees.
According to the article “Pruning Landscape Trees,” found in the January edition of Acreage Living Newsletter, the best time to prune trees is usually mid to late winter, or February through March. Pruning this time of year allows the tree to begin closing/compartmentalizing the wound when growth commences in early spring.
There are many reasons for pruning trees. Some common reasons are to improve the health and structure of the tree, remove growth that may interfere with nearby structures, and to prevent safety hazards for people, pets and livestock.
The article summarizes the basic steps to a successful pruning, using information from an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Sustainable Urban Landscapes publication, compiled by Jeff Iles, professor and chair in horticulture at Iowa State, and Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost for academic programs and professor of horticulture at Iowa State.
Pruning at other times of the year also are acceptable, but there are a few important exceptions. For example, summer is an excellent time to perform corrective pruning except for oak trees. Oaks should only be pruned during the dormant season. The authors also advise against pruning during periods of major biological change to the tree, including the spring, from bud break through leaf expansion; and during the period of leaf color change in the fall.
Training young trees could begin as early as the day of installation and includes best practices such as favoring the development of a central leader, avoiding the removal of lower branches too soon, and working “with” (instead of against), the natural growth habit of each tree species.
The article provides several more pruning tips for young trees, and also explains the best way to make a pruning cut. Trees should be examined carefully before any cuts are made, and the eventual cut should preserve the “branch bark ridge” and the “branch collar,” for the best wound closure.
Review all of the steps and tips by reviewing the article, and the publication on pruning. Other articles in this month’s newsletter include a review of key 2019 agricultural law developments, and a review of farm financial statements.
About the Authors: 

Jeffery Iles

Department of Horticulture
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