Wind in Trees

As Friday’s winds rattled the landscape and ravished our senses, it dawned on me that nature is truly a multi-tasker.  Like a wild-fire that clears away dead, diseased and suffocating underbrush, the wind assisted in pruning out the weak, dead and dying branches, saving us a bit of time and energy.

Dormant Pruning

Dormant pruning is a common practice in late Winter.  Because deciduous plants are leafless, it is easier to see the structure of the plant.  Further still, disease transmission and insect invasion is greatly reduced.  Before you get out the shears or pruners, read through the tips below for optimum, healthy results:

Pruning Plan 

Have a Plan

Get a good look at the plant.  Take a moment to study its shape and have a plan.  The idea is to maintain the natural shape of the plant.

Dead Branch 

Remove the Dead & Diseased

Remove any dead, diseased or crossing branches regardless of their location within the plant.

Water Sprouts 

Remove Suckers & Water Sprouts

Remove all suckers and water sprouts.  Suckers are straight, unbranched stems that emerge from the base of the tree.  Water sprouts are similar to suckers, yet they grow at right angles to the branches.

Bad Dormant Pruning 

Maintain Natural Shape of Plant

Never limb up low branching trees.  Tall plants/shrubs should never be topped off in an effort to make them shorter.

Pruning Canopies 

Thin Canopies

Thin the canopy of trees like Hawthorns and Crabapples by working from the center outwards.  Your goal is to increase air circulation.  Remember never to remove more than 1/4 of a plant.

Pruning Above Bud 

Prune Back to Bud or Branch

Always prune back to a bud or branch.  Never leave open ends and cut just above a bud.


Work Patiently

Work slowly and patiently.  Step back between cuts to assess the shape and structure of the plant.

When in doubt, contact Sweeney’s.

Oak Wilt Leaves

There has been some recent concern over pruning Oak trees in Winter.  Oak Wilt is a fungal disease that spreads through the vascular system of the plant.  Red Oaks are especially susceptible and can die within a few months of infection.  Dormant pruned trees have fresh wounds that leave the tree vulnerable to disease.  Until we know more, I would suggest foregoing any dormant pruning of these mighty beauties.

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney