When should you cut tree branches?

Couper des branches d'arbres

When should you cut tree branches?

Do you have several trees and bushes that you’d like to maintain in good health with well-balanced, full branches and foliage? For optimal results, you should give your trees regular maintenance.

In that regard, you’re probably asking yourself a thousand and one questions like why prune a tree? How does one trim a tree? Are there specific cutting techniques? How does one trim the branches? When’s the best time to trim trees and bushes? During which season is it preferable to prune a tree or a bush? Should they be trimmed before or after flowering?

So many questions… But we’re going to try to answer them as precisely as possible.

Why cut tree branches?

There are various reasons why you might want to cut branches, the main one being to maintain the tree in good health and preserve its vigor. Trimming favors the development and life expectancy of a tree, while helping maintain its symmetry by correcting its centerline. What’s more, pruning encourages the formation of strong branches by eliminating dead, diseased and damaged ones. You should also eliminate any suckers and cut any low branches, as well as any branches that are too close to the center of the tree or that are growing toward the center.

However, you should be careful never to remove more than 20 percent of the branches (including twigs and foliage) from a tree or bush each year; otherwise, you’re putting its health at great risk.

When should you cut tree branches?

The ideal trimming period will depend on the type of tree. However, in general, you should never trim a tree during the coldest months (January and February) or during the dog days of summer. It’s also preferable to avoid rainy days, as cutting the wood when it’s wet puts the tree at risk of becoming diseased.

For deciduous trees
It’s preferable to cut deciduous trees while they’re dormant, i.e. in early spring (before the buds open) or late autumn (a few weeks after the leaves fall). When the tree is devoid of foliage, the branches are much easier to see, which facilitates the trimming process.

You should also consider the species, as certain ones, such as birch, maple, walnut and basswood, produce copious amounts of sap in early spring. Therefore, it’s preferable to cut those trees in the autumn after the leaves have fallen off. On the other hand, in the case of apple trees, mountain ash, hawthorns and any trees belonging to the Rosaceae family, it’s preferable to trim them in early spring; otherwise, you could jeopardize their preparation for winter.

For conifers
You should cut the large branches in the fall to minimize sap loss. On the other hand, you should trim young plants, spruces, pines and firs at the end of spring (in late June). But be careful not to cut off more than half of the new shoots.

Do you require the services of a professional to cut branches off your trees and bushes? Contact the experts at Émondage SBP today to make an appointment to get an estimate on having your trees trimmed!