A chill is in the air, leaves are falling, plants are no longer blooming, and everyone is anxiously awaiting winter’s arrival. Now that you’ve put away your yard decorations and covered your lawn furniture, it may seem like there’s nothing else to do outside until next spring.

However, that’s an incorrect assumption. The cold autumn and winter months are often the best time for Dormant Pruning.

What is Dormant Pruning?

Dormant Pruning is a style of pruning trees and shrubs during a period that will cause the least amount of stress to the plants. In the Northeast and Midwest, the cold winter months can be the best time to perform the routine maintenance of dormant pruning. That’s because plants are in a “resting” phase, usually starting during the autumn season and extending until early spring. 

By working with an ISA Certified Arborist, you can prune damaged tree limbs, elevate low limbs, shape canopies, clear vistas for added sunlight, and reduce extra “dead” weight prior to snowfall. 

Plus, Dormant Pruning is known to increase the shrub or tree’s lifespan by not allowing it to grow beyond its space. Keeping vegetation properly pruned, all year round, helps to ensure the plant remains healthy and vibrant for the long-term. 

Keep in mind, Dormant Pruning only applies to “deciduous” trees or shrubs which are plants that typically lose their leaves, flowers, nuts, or fruits. For example, evergreen trees or bushes that don’t go through that process shouldn’t be pruned during winter. On the other hand, you can practice Dormant Pruning on deciduous trees like maples, oaks, and birches. 

What are the Benefits of Dormant Pruning?

Although winter may not be your favorite time to do lawn maintenance, most trees and plants are very receptive to pruning during colder months. That’s because plants are resting and storing their energy after an intense time of growth during the summer. Plus, most of the diseases and pests that affect trees are also dormant. So, Dormant Pruning lowers the chance of spreading pathogens and pests among other plants to nearly zero. 

Reasons why Dormant Pruning can benefit your landscaping

  • Tree sap doesn’t run in the winter so trees don’t bleed when they’re pruned during cold months
  • It’s easy for arborists to prune, cable, and stabilize trees when they have no leaves
  • For certain species, Dormant Pruning encourages better flowering in the springtime, as well as increasing fruit and nut production
  • Overgrown shrubs can benefit from Dormant Pruning by reducing their size by up to ⅓ or more which helps rejuvenate the plant
  • Dormant Pruning of younger plants can help them develop strong structures and attractive forms
  • Shrubs and trees that are regularly pruned often live longer than those that are not trimmed routinely. In fact, pruning can increase the plant’s ability to withstand harsh conditions like snow, ice, and strong winds. 
  • Pruning can help identify any hazardous trees that need to be removed prior to the next winter storm. In fact, certified arborists appreciate Dormant Pruning because it’s so much easier to evaluate a tree’s needs and structures when there are no leaves. 
  • Freshly pruned cuts usually heal much faster during the dormant season and are far less likely to attract unwanted insects.
  • By practicing Dormant Pruning, you’re helping to extend the life of your plants which saves money over time. 
  • Creates a pleasing ascetic of your property, as well as adding value to your home.
  • Pruning during cold months also means the ground is harder (possibly frozen) which makes for a more stable surface while working with heavy equipment and ladders. 

When is the Best Dormant Pruning Period? 

Dormant Pruning is traditionally performed between late November to mid-March. 

Usually the temperature in New Jersey averages between mid-30s to upper-50s during this time of year. This is the normal hibernation period for lots of plants and pruning during that time. 

Remember, heavy pruning during the growing season of spring or summer could put your plants under added stress. That’s because the bush or tree is flourishing with new growth during the warmer months. If a large amount of the plant is pruned during the winter, while the tree or bush is dormant, the plant’s overall energy reserve will remain unchanged. 

Professional Dormant Pruning Services 

Dial Environmental has spent more than 35 years providing their professional services to five New Jersey counties: Essex County, Morris County, Somerset County, Union County, and Passaic County. Our long-time customers appreciate our high quality lawn and plant care, as well as effective pest control techniques. 

Let our experts improve the health of your trees and shrubs by dormant pruning. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about dormant pruning.