When to Prune

Most routine pruning to remove weak, diseased, or dead limbs can be accomplished at any time during the year with little effect on the tree. As a rule, growth is maximized and wound closure is fastest if pruning takes place before the spring growth flush while tree is dormant. Some trees, such as maples and birches, tend to “bleed” if pruned early in the spring. It may be unsightly, but it is of little consequence to the tree. If deadwood is the only concern pruning while the leaves are on in summer is generally the best time of year.

A few tree diseases, such as oak wilt, can be spread when pruning wounds allow spores access into the tree. Susceptible trees should not be pruned during active transmission periods.

Heavy pruning just after the spring growth flush should be avoided. At that time, trees have just expended a great deal of energy to produce foliage and early shoot growth. Removal of a large percentage of foliage at that time can stress the tree.