Winter Pruning Guide – What and When to Prune + Tips

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While most people at this time of year are challenged with how to stay fit and trim, avid gardeners are sharpening their pruners to trim and thin their landscapes here in Fort Collins and Greeley.

Why now? Winter is a great time to prune summer and fall flowering trees and shrubs because it encourages long-term health, safety and without leaves on the trees, you can actually get a bird’s eye view of the branches to clearly see what you’re cutting. There also are fewer insects roaming around during the colder months, so winter pruning your trees in Fort Collins and Greeley helps prevent the spread of disease.

However, before you start indulging your green thumb, keep these tips in mind.

Use the Right Tools for the Task: Sharp, clean hand pruners, loppers, shearers and saws should be enough to tackle any size pruning job.

Know Which Trees to Cut: Use this list to know when to prune some of the trees and shrubs that are most popular in Colorado:

  • Fruit trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring, usually before early March, just before bud break.
  • Deciduous trees like maples, birch and aspen, can be pruned during winter’s dormant months. The newly cut ends may produce sap, but they are not harmful to the tree’s health.
  • Late summer flowering shrubs like potentilla, Annabelle and Peegee hydrangea, rose of Sharon, dogwood, burning bush, St. John’s wort, blue mist spirea and butterfly bush should be pruned in late winter before bud break.

Cut with Purpose: Start with pruning dead and diseased branches. Branches that are hitting the ground, crossing or rubbing one another should also be cut. When branches rub against one another, their bark can tear, opening a door for disease.

Look for Safety: Consider pruning weak or vulnerable branches, especially those close to the house that might not be able to withstand heavy snow or strong winds.

Keep Hands to Yourself: Resist snapping branches off by hand. Torn branches are also a port for disease.

Know Where to Cut: Prune just outside the branch collar – the point where one branch is attached to another.

Don’t Take the Fall: All Terrain has the right equipment to safely reach the top of tall and mature trees. We also can provide consultation on any of the above pruning techniques for our neighbors here in Fort Collins and Greeley, as well as give advice for a good-looking structural and healthy tree or shrub.

Pruning the right way promotes healthy growth in the spring for your Fort Collins landscape. If you have questions on getting your trees pruned this winter, give All Terrain a call at 970-304-1183.

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