In the summer, your landscape to-do list is always spilling onto another page. From mowing to watering, you’re busy enough!
But now that you spotted a precarious tree limb in your garden, you’re wondering if, perhaps, you should trim now…
Usually, it’s best to prune trees in the dormant season when deciduous trees they don’t have any leaves. But as with any rule, there are always exceptions. Discover what they are below.
Is It Ok to Trim Trees in the Summer?
You probably want to hold off on heavily pruning trees now–unless it’s a fruit tree or poses a safety risk. But removing a few small branches should be A-OK as you long as you do it the right way.
Tips on Summer Tree Trimming
When is summer pruning good for trees:
- If your tree has broken, hanging , or otherwise weak branches, you should always deal with these problems ASAP.
- Your tree has an odd shape. Minor cuts of less than 1'' diameter are OK to make now, but hold off on any large-scale pruning jobs.
- The tree is getting too large, and you want to attempt to reduce its growth for next season.
Pruning Trees in Summer: Cut Conservatively
Why shouldn't you heavily prune trees in summer? If you prune to excess in summer, next year, your trees may not be as full. Summer pruning takes away from the tree's total number of leaves, and fewer leaves mean less food flowing throughout the tree for next year's growth.
Avoid Pruning Oaks in the Summer
A tree with open pruning wounds may be extra vulnerable to certain diseases, some of which are spread by insects attracted to fresh wounds. That’s especially for oak and elm trees! If possible, you should not prune oak trees at all during the summer to reduce the chance of oak wilt, which is a potentially fatal disease, and do not prune elm trees at all during the summer to reduce the chance of Dutch elm disease, both of which are fatal diseases.
If you must prune (usually for safety reasons), paint the pruning cuts with latex paint to make them less attractive to fungus-carrying beetles.
Here's more information on the best time to trim oak trees and how often.
Trees that Benefit from Summer Pruning
- Fruit trees: Fruit production and quality can be improved with proper thinning of blooms and fruits as they set.
- Evergreen trees: You can do some light trimming, such as shearing tips or making small thinning cuts less than 1” in diameter, in the summer, but save the major pruning for the dormant season.
- Sappy hardwoods: You can prune maple, walnut, and birch trees. Some people prefer a summertime prune for these trees because they typically ooze sap when pruned in winter and early spring.
- Trees with dead branches: If you spot dead, broken, or dying limbs, you can remove those at any time.
Do You Need an Arborist to Trim a Tree?
There are quite a few reasons pruning your tree regularly is important. (see earlier note about the linked blog and frequency of pruning)
- Remove dying, damaged, decaying, or dead branches to enhance its visual beauty.
- To safely maintain a tree in its space – never removing too much, but keeping branches from rubbing against your home or hanging over walkways, etc.
- To reduce competition between trees that are near each other, allowing increased sunlight and airflow to both trees.
- To protect people, structures, or power lines.
Sometimes, though, these things can be hard to see or understand, depending on your specific tree and how much you know about that species.
If you think your tree may cause damage to your home or you have safety concerns, contacting a certified arborist can ensure that trimming is done right to alleviate your issues and to keep your tree healthy as well.
A professional arborist can also be helpful if you need to trim branches larger than 4 inches, which are large enough to be dangerous for untrained people to cut. If you have any doubt about your ability to assess your tree pruning needs and what to cut and what not to cut, contacting a certified arborist can give you the peace of mind you need to get the job done safely and quickly.