Winter Tree and Shrub Pruning Tips

Winter pruning of trees and shrubs has advantages, but before starting the task at hand, it is best to know which types of plants are in your garden - deciduous trees or coniferous trees. Deciduous trees have leaves, while coniferous trees bear cones.

Why Prune in Winter

Winter pruning of most deciduous trees and shrubs is more advantageous than fall pruning for the health of your garden or landscaping. Done correctly, winter pruning will promote the production of more flowers or fruit in the seasons ahead.

The reasons for this are pretty straightforward. After the leaves have fallen, it is easier to see and get to the parts of your trees or shrubs which need to be pruned. Because the tree or shrub is dormant at the time of pruning, it will have extra energy for new growth once spring breaks. Finally, pruning during fall can put your trees or shrubs at risk due to an increased risk of disease from mold and fungus.

Pruning Tips

Our experts offer the following tips for winter pruning:

  • Choose a dry day with plenty of sunlight.
  • Don't prune if the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your tools clean in between use. Warm soapy water works best. However, if you have used your tools to prune diseased branches you will definitely want to disinfect the blade with a mild bleach solution prior to using them again.
  • Make sure your tools are dry before use.
  • Always prune away branches or twigs as close to the source branch as you can.
  • Use the right tools for the job. Pruners can be used with a single hand and are generally used for smaller branches and twigs. Loppers have two handles and have more cutting power for larger diameter branches.

Pruners and loppers come in two types: anvil and bypass:

  • Anvil technology features a single-blade upper jaw which closes on a lower jaw anvil. These are best used on tough, mature wood and provide more cutting power than bypass technology.
  • Bypass technology features two blades, with the upper blade sweeping past the lower blade. Bypass types cuts instead of crushes; and because of this, these promote faster wound healing and sealing. Bypass technology is recommended for precise, stub-free cuts of stems and green branches.

Though you won't realize the benefit of your effort for a few more months, winter is the recommended time for you to prune most trees and shrubs in your garden or landscaping.

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