Wait to prune your trees until after the leaves fall

Willow tree

OK! OK! I’ll wait a bit.

Pruning too soon can harm your trees and shrubs.So, when it comes to fall pruning, procrastination is the way to go.

Pruning a little branch or two may be OK, bigger tasks like thinning the crown or cutting a big limb should wait unless the tree is a hazard. If it is a hazard, you should likely call the professionals in any case. 

  • In early autumn, wounds from pruning close more slowly and plants are at risk for fungal diseases. For most trees, the best time for major pruning is November to early spring because wounds close faster.
  • Pruning in late summer and early autumn may also stimulate new growth, which has little time to harden before cold weather comes.
  • If you must prune in fall, wait until trees drop their leaves and are dormant—usually October or November. Then, you can see the tree’s structure and identify disease and insect problems more easily.
  • Dormancy (especially late winter to early spring) is also a good time to prune evergreens because vigorous spring growth will hide pruning wounds.
  • One exception to the no-fall-pruning advice is that you should remove dead, diseased, and damaged wood as soon as possible –– for tree health and your safety. Take proper safety precautions at all times. Hire a professional tree service to remove big limbs, high branches, and any other tree job that you’re not prepared to do.


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