You may dread the thought of late fall and winter elements, but for your trees, it’s the moment they’ve been waiting for all year. The dormant season temporarily slows tree growth, which may sound damaging, but in reality, it provides an opportunity for healthy revitalization in the spring.

Why is dormant pruning important?

Pruning in this season is an ideal time to maintain current tree health and promote future tree growth. The tree’s inactivity, coupled with the outdoor elements, makes pruning during this time beneficial to your trees, including:

  1. Dormant pruning helps support disease management. While pruning in warmer spring and summer temperatures can cause certain diseases, like oak wilt, to spread, a fresh cut in the winter season makes the tree less likely to attract disease-carrying insects and spread disease. Also, the presence of some diseases is easier to spot on a bare tree.
  2. Pruning during dormancy gives the tree a better foundation for next spring. Pruning when leaves are absent makes it easier to improve the branching pattern and direct future growth. Furthermore, when a tree is pruned after the start of new growth in the spring, the blooming potential may be limited.
  3. Winter tree trimming (pruning) keeps trees safer through the season and is a proactive storm prep best practice. Getting rid of weak or damaged branches clears that tree of areas that may break off in winter weather from heavy snow and winds.
  4. A more precise prune is possible during the dormant season. Leaf drop throughout the fall season makes branches easier to see, so there is easy access to prune a tree at its core. This provides the most time-efficient solution for you.
  5. Dormant pruning saves time and money. With the cold weather providing a harder ground, arborists have easier access to the tree using specialized equipment. This more efficient method of pruning saves us time and saves you money.

Can I prune during the growing season?

While there are a number of benefits to pruning during the winter season, you may see some pruning is done in the spring or summer. Pruning is an element of tree care that is important to do year-round for healthy trees, and there are reasons why it may make more sense to prune during the active seasons. These include:

  • Unforeseen issues that become visible after growing season begins
  • Removing tree growth that limits the ability of other landscaping elements to flourish
  • Addressing visible deadwood with species that are harder to identify in the dormant season, such as honey locust
  • Increasing air circulation for disease management and reduced fungus growth
  • Improving growing season aesthetics when you’re spending the most time outside
  • Promoting long-term health of your trees

You can also download our infographic with quick facts about pruning in the dormant season.

Contact your local Davey arborist about a free dormant pruning consultation.


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