Can Trees Be Pruned in the Spring?

When spring arrives, you might notice a tree or bush in your yard is in need of a trim, but you might be wondering: Can trees be pruned in the spring or is it too late?

The best time to prune your trees is late fall or early spring. Trees follow a pattern every year — going dormant as cooler temperatures begin and then “waking up” as temperatures warm and the days get longer. Going dormant during the winter months allows trees to survive the harsh winter conditions.

Late fall and early spring are right on the cusp of the dormant seasons and it’s easier to see the structure of the tree because they are either free of leaves or are about to be. This makes it easier to see what branches need trimming and makes it easier to make proper cuts outside the branch collar and in the direction of growth.

Why Prune When Trees are Dormant?

In addition to allowing you to better see the tree for pruning, pruning while trees are dormant reduces stress on the tree. When a tree is active and receives a trim or a cut, its reaction is to stimulate growth and repair the wound.

As an additional benefit, trees pruned during dormancy don’t attract disease-causing pests.

Can Trees Be Pruned in Spring?

While there are many benefits to pruning trees during their dormant periods, you can prune trees once they have buds or leaves — though it’s still best to do this while they are dormant.

If you do prune your trees once they have begun to bloom, don’t remove more than 10% of the tree’s branches and be sure to only prune solely to remove dead or dying branches or to shape the tree.

There are certain varieties of trees that do well when pruned in late spring and early summer, including birch, walnut and maple trees. These varieties of trees tend to bleed sap when pruned in the winter or early spring. If they’re pruned in late spring/early summer, they tend to bleed less, which results in less mess.

It’s also best to prune these trees in the spring once they’re done blooming:

  • Flowering cherry trees
  • Flowering plum trees
  • Apricot trees
  • Chokecherry trees
  • Dogwood trees
  • Juneberry trees
  • Lilac trees
  • Magnolia trees
  • Crabapple trees

Have questions about tree pruning or need help caring for your trees? The team at Safari Tree can help. Contact us today.