Winter Safety Pruning

Trees provide countless benefits, including protection and enhancement to your property. Not only do they stop storm water runoff, conserve electricity  usage and improve air quality, but also your trees can buffer strong winds that enter your property.  Therefore, it is very important to keep our trees healthy.

Wintertime is a great time to prune since the trees are dormant. It is usually best to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed. This is a good way to keep them healthy and protect them from disease such as oak wilt or Dutch elm disease.  Pruning during this time results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring and should be used if that is the desired effect. It also allows the tree to seal the wound immediately at the start of the growing season. This decreases the amount of sap flow and provides a longer healing period.  Some species such as, maple, walnuts and birches may “bleed” when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful and will cease when the tree leafs out.

Do not shake limbs to try and remove snow or ice – When you find your trees are bending or sagging due to ice and snow accumulation, your first instinct is probably to shake the branches. This may cause breakage or damage. Plants are flexible, so knocking off the weight of accumulation may cause them to “snap” back, potentially damaging the circulatory system. Have an arborist examine damaged branches for signs of weakness.

Safely remove broken limbs – If a limb breaks off from the weight of ice or snow and remains in the tree canopy, have it removed and the stub properly cut as soon as the weather allows. Hanging branches can be a danger to people and property. In addition, the tree will heal better when properly pruned. For undamaged limbs bending under the weight of ice or snow, don’t prune as a means of correcting the situation; the limbs should return naturally as the weather conditions change.

Prevent snow and ice damage to trees – Make sure your trees are pruned properly. Particularly important is the removal of hazardous, dead or weak branches. Trees that tend to suffer the worst damage as a result of snow and ice are upright Evergreens, like Arborvitae and Juniper, and Clump Trees, like Birch. And, when it comes to ice, age doesn’t make a tree stronger; younger trees actually tend to survive better in ice storms.



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