With the cold well on its way, many Calgarians are spending a little time trimming back their shrubs and finishing the last touches on winterizing their yard and garden. Perhaps that’s why, we hear from so many Albertans around this time of year asking if they should be pruning their trees. While your trees absolutely benefit from being pruned, fall is not the right time to perform this chore.
When performed at the right time of year, pruning helps to strengthen a tree by removing dead, diseased, and damaged branches. Thinning the crown of burden branches helps to allow better air circulation — trees breathe too! — and creates space for new, healthy growth. In fruiting and flowering trees, pruning can help to encourage that tree to have increased production. However, pruning has the potential to be harmful and it can cause permanent damage to trees when done badly.
Everytime you prune your tree, you cause stress and leave it temporarily more vulnerable to pests, disease, and seasonal changes. Pruning creates open wounds in the tree. As long as these wounds are open and the tree is losing sap, it will be at an increased risk of sickness. Because of that, it is usually ideal to prune over the winter months — not during the fall. In the heart of winter, most fungi and bugs that can harm trees are dormant, giving the tree ample time to recover.
For most trees, the ideal time to prune is from March to mid-April. You’ll want to wait until the worst of winter is over, which in Calgary is often the end of March, but before the weather is warm enough for the insects and trees to wake up. Pruning over winter also helps you to take a better look at the overall structure of your tree without the leaves getting in the way. Finally, the cold temperatures prevent excessive sap loss.
Of course, exceptions do apply. Birch and maple trees do best when pruned during the middle of summer. For more information on pruning in Alberta, we recommend reading this post from the Alberta ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Between fertilizing, weeding, mulching, and raking up excess thatch, there are many, many yard chores to be done during the fall. Fortunately, pruning isn’t one of them. If you need help winterizing your lawn, our team at Five-Star Landscaping is here to help. Give us a call today!