Pruning Your Tree for Winter

Pruning Your Tree for WinterAt A Touch of Class Tree Service, we know how deadly winter can be on the trees we enjoy so much during the warm summer months and fall. That is why pruning your tree for winter will help your outside greenery stay healthy and happy, living a long life. Pruning of deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast re-growth in the spring, as most plants are dormant during winter. It is also much easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone, making pruning a breeze.

  • Prune on a mild, dry day, if possible.
  • When pruning, prune dead and diseased branches first.
  • Then remove the overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the crown of the tree.

In general, your goal is to keep the branches that develop and retain the structure of the tree. Cut the branches at the point where one branch or twig attaches to another, often called a node.

Get the right EQUIPMENT. To prune efficiently, use only sharp tools. You can cut an awful lot with a good old wood saw, however, a curved pruning saw makes getting between limbs a whole lot easier. Sturdy secateurs will save your wrists from aching if you’ve got a lot of work to do, and loppers will extend your reach just the little extra length you may need. A ladder may also be necessary, so be sure to invite a friend over to hold it for you. Don’t go “Edward Scissorhands” on your trees and shrubs. Remember, less is more, depending on the variety of plants you are pruning.

The national average tree pruning cost is approximately $410, based on your state or area and conditions. Some people forget that if you do not properly prune or trim trees and shrubs, they can grow too dense, preventing much-needed water from reaching the roots and sunlight from visiting the interior. This might leave the plant nice and lush on the outside, but the inside will eventually die or get diseased. Pruning your tree for winter is a highly important step.

Here are some of the trees that SHOULD be pruned in winter.



Glossy Abelia

Beauty Berries

Camellias (after they finish blooming)

European hornbeam





Bradford and Callery Pears






Bald cypress



Honey locust

When pruning, here is a general rule of thumb to follow:

  1. Remove dead or dying branches.
  2. Prune diseased limbs immediately. Be sure to make the cut well below the infected areas, and don’t prune when the plants are wet. If you want to be cautious, rinse off your tools with a solution of 10 percent bleach in water.
  3. Cut back branches that grow over where you walk or mow, to prevent unsafe breakage.
  4. Where you see two branches cross, prune only the smaller one.
  5. Thin branches to allow sunlight and air into the center of the trees and shrubs.

Here are some DO’s and DON’TS when pruning:

Cut at an angle that mirrors the branch collar, the furrow of bark where the branch and tree trunk meet. Cut the branch just next to the branch collar. If you have done it right, a circle of healthy callus will swell up around the point.

Cut large branches into three parts. First, cut off approximately one-third of the branch to reduce its weight. Holding up a huge branch, while you prune it off the trunk, will break your back and probably your saw, tearing the trunk’s bark. Next, undercut the remaining stub, so the trunk bark won’t rip when the stub falls free. And finally, make the final cut from the top, beside the branch collar.

Don’t leave stubs behind—stubs invite insects and disease to move in and attack healthy tissue.

Don’t butcher your trees. A tree with a flat-top looks ludicrous and will grow weaker new sprouts in the place of more vigorous branches. Cut to the tree’s own natural shape and let it grow up the way it wants to. You should never cut away more than a 1/4 of the crown of the tree.

There are just three basic techniques for crown work:

  1. Crown thinning removes excess branches from the top and outer edges of the trees so that the others can grow stronger. Prune branches that rub or cross other branches. The trick is to keep even spaces between lateral branches.
  2. Crown raising removes excess branches and foliage from the bottom of the tree because they obstruct sidewalks and roads. Keep in mind the above techniques, but make sure that you keep branches on at least two-thirds of the tree’s height.
  3. Crown reduction takes off branches and foliage from the top of a tree. This should only be done if unavoidable for the health of the tree or the safety of people and property.

The pricing for tree pruning depends on multiple factors and sometimes is a necessary cost. Here are a few elements to consider if hiring a professional:

  • The size of the tree
  • The tree’s location
  • The type of tree or species
  • The health of the tree

Check with many tree trimming professionals when getting a quote for your tree pruning, as these factors could affect how much you pay for the pruning experience. Larger trees with a greater girth may cost more and trees planted close to your home or power lines could also increase the cost substantially. Trees with thick branches are harder to cut, and a healthy tree is generally easier to prune. Whereas, trees with pests or diseases will take extra work and increase the total cost of your pruning work by a professional, indefinitely. Ask around, and be sure to get the full quote, including removal if needed.

Of course, most pruning of your trees can be done by doing it yourself. However, there are also times when you should call on the professionals such as A Touch of Class Tree Service. We are experienced arborists that can tackle hard to reach trees and shrubs during the cold winter months when the last thing you feel like doing is being out in the cold or high up on a ladder. Pruning your tree for winter can be achieved with one easy phone call to A Touch of Class Tree Service. Call today!

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