Regular tree trimming is one of those tasks that's easy to put off, but doing so will have long-term repercussions on tree health. Knowing when and how often to prune your trees can help you avoid problems.
1. Newly Planted Trees
Young trees require proper trimming to ensure they grow healthy and in good form. The first pruning typically occurs when a sapling is planted. Your tree service will remove excess branches so only those that are growing at a good angle to the trunk will remain. Further training pruning is done annually for the first few years after planting, typically in early spring, to remove weak branches, head back long branches, and ensure that the branches are well balanced around the trunk.
2. Mature Deciduous Trees
Deciduous trees benefit from an annual trim in late winter, during dormancy, and before they begin to leaf out in spring. The intensity of the pruning depends on the specific tree. Some only need winter-damaged branches removed, while others may require thinning and shaping as well. Typically, the older the tree the less intensive the necessary pruning.
3. Evergreen Trees
Many evergreens, particularly those with needles instead of leaves, grow naturally in a pyramidal or rounded pyramidal form. All these trees need is light pruning, usually in winter or early spring, to trim out dead branches or head back overly long branches that are ruining the natural form. Evergreens don't always require annual pruning if there is no damage, and will often do fine with a good trim every few years instead.
4. Hedges and Shrubs
Shrubs are typically pruned in late winter if they aren't grown for their flowers, or after the spring blossoming season if they are. Dead wood is trimmed out, the shrubs are lightly shaped, and excess branches may be thinned to allow for better air circulation. More formal hedges, which are often broadleaf evergreens, require shaping with clippers in late winter or early spring. A second maintenance shaping may also be needed in mid-to-late summer if they are beginning to look a bit shaggy after summer growth.
5. Special Situations
There are situations when a tree may require trimming outside of the preferred seasonal period. If a tree suffers damage, perhaps due to storms, then prompt trimming is necessary to remove damaged branches before they can break and cause more harm. Trees that put on a lot of summer growth, leading to overly long branches that endanger buildings or property, may also require a minor trim.
Contact a tree trimming service for more help with your annual tree pruning needs.