Why Dormant Season is the Time to Prune Trees

As trees continue to drop their leaves, we approach the Dormant Season – the best time of year to prune.

Dormancy is a tool trees use to protect themselves over winter. They drop their leaves and pull in vital nutrients and moisture to sustain itself over winter. This prohibits energy and water loss from the tree which is hard to replace in the shorter days and reduced sunlight during the winter season.

Once the leaves begin to fall, dormancy has basically gone to sleep. It’s not growing or repairing itself. The buds have already been set for the next season. The tree is in hibernation mode – slowing down its own metabolism to conserve itself.

If you’ve been putting off tree work so far this year, good news. The dormant season is the best time of the year to do tree work. And even more perfect timing ahead of the winter season, when ice and snow can easily bring down what appear to be strong trees.

Most trees can be pruned at any time of the year. But the dormant season is ideal because it’s safer both for the tree and for the crew. Here’s why:

  • Less potential injury to understory plants. If you have bushes or other plants growing around the base of the tree, they are likely to already become dormant too and are occupying less space than before.
  • Access is easier as the ground is frozen. Leaving your yard in great shape is of utmost importance to us. With a frozen ground, the chances of rutting and disturbance are reduced.
  • Reduce the chance of spreading tree diseases and fungal inspections. Most pests, disease, and fungus are less active during the cold weather. So the chances of it spreading on your property to transfer to the equipment are lessened.
  • Increased visibility of the structure of the tree following leaf drop. When the trees are gone, it’s easier to see any issues that might be present in the branches or trunk of the tree. We can be sure to note any damage, infestations, or other adverse conditions that need to be addressed.
  • Reduces sap loss and slime flux. Trees can tolerate some sap loss. The problem is that sap does attract bacteria which feeds on the sugars in the sap. Once that happens, you’ll see a brown foamy liquid called slime flux, which can prevent the wound from healing and increases the chance of the tree dying.

Prune Trees Now Before Winter Becomes Harsh

Winter is right around the corner! And with winter comes snow and ice storms. Ice layers put heavy loads on trees and can down even the strongest ones when soil conditions become saturated. Remember, once winter comes, the soil tends to retain moisture and doesn’t dry out until late spring.

So this is a good time to take advantage of the dormant season. Tree pruning is much harder than it looks. You should never climb on a ladder with a chain saw or conduct tree pruning without the proper safety equipment, techniques, and experience.

We recommend having any at-risk trees inspected by our expert arborist, who can assess if the tree needs to be pruned, removed, or monitored.

Because the last thing you need this winter is for a tree to come down on your home or vehicle.


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Need help with trees service in the Baltimore County area? Operating out of Glen Arm, MD, we have been serving the eastern part of the county for over four decades!

Contact us today to schedule your free tree assessment!

Why Dormant Season is the Time to Prune Trees