The best time to trim your trees is the fall, right, because everything is dead already? Or is it best to wait until the winter because everything is brittle? Or should you wait until the tree has sprouted so that it has enough nutrients to heal itself? What about in the summer when trees are at their peak?

Questions about when to prune trees is quite common, especially in an area like Lynchburg where we have all of the seasons.

There isn’t a right answer as to when is the best time to prune “trees.” Each and every type of tree has a specific time when it is best to trim them – and sometimes it will depend on the trees themselves, where they are, and even the year.

Pruning trees is difficult, but here are some guidelines for the most common trees to plant in Lynchburg:

5. Kousa Dogwood: Once Blooming Complete

  • Pruning Dictates Flower Growth
  • Minimal Pruning is Best
  • Clean Pruning Tools Thoroughly Before and After

Since the Kousa blooms in the spring, you will want to prune after that is complete. New buds will develop over the growing season (summer), so you want to prune as early as possible so you have beautiful flowers next year. You can prune in the fall, if you want, but you won’t get many (if any) flowers the next spring.

Typically, minimal pruning is necessary to keep this tree healthy. Instead, focus on eliminating damaged or diseased branches. You can thin out the shrub if necessary, especially if you keep it in shrub form. Focus on allowing sunlight and air into the plant.

Cooperative Extension suggests cleaning your tools thoroughly to help prevent the spread of disease. Use only high quality tools that are lubricated for cleaner, more precise cuts.

4. Fringetree: Late Spring

  • Aim for After Blooming
  • Doesn’t Require Much Pruning
  • Sterilize Tools Between Main Branches

Since Fringetrees grow so slowly, most people are afraid of actually pruning them. however, you do need to do a little pruning every year just to help them stay strong and shape them. Younger trees sometimes need to be trimmed into a tree shape instead of a shrub, especially if you planted the tree extremely young.

Make sure to keep two or three main stems when pruning.

Fungal diseases, like powdery mildew or leaf spot, are possible, especially if you keep the tree somewhere moist. Make sure to keep your eye on these, but you don’t always have to prune to take care of the problem.

According to the Bernheim Arboretum, “Flowers are produced on 2nd-year wood, so care must be taken when pruning to allow for the next year’s flowering.”

3. American Yellowwood: Summer

  • Only Prune As Necessary
  • Be Prepared For Heavy Sap
  • Will Vary By Year

Pruning the American Yellowwood can be a dirty task – the amount of sap and debris that will fall is astonishing. The next few weeks will be quite sappy as well as the tree tries to heal itself. That is why it is recommended that you only prune as much as you need to, and not any more.

You should prune more when the tree is young, eliminating any leaders that might develop. This will prevent the tree from splitting years later. You’ll have to prune more the wetter your climate is, which can vary by the year. Most importantly, prune so that there is a great spread of the branches.

If at all possible, avoid pruning in the summer until other flowers have bloomed. The flowers of the American Yellowwood are some of the best sources of nectar for bees, according to the University of Kentucky.

2. Paperbark Maple: Fall or Winter

  • Wait a Few Seasons to Prune “Dead” Branches
  • Allow Tree to Establish Itself
  • Do Not Prune to Shape

One of the odd things about the Paperbark Maple tree is that the branches may appear to have died, but they actually aren’t. If you can’t tell for sure, you should just allow it to stay for a year or two to make sure it is really dead, especially if it is a larger branch.

A lot of people like to prune to shape the Paperbark Maple, but this is not advisable, as it will only ruin what the tree does naturally. Don’t prune for the first few years and see what the tree looks like – it will correct itself. When you do prune, it is essential to establish one leader as the central trunk.

According to The Spruce, “Pruning can be done as soon as the tree enters dormancy,” so you want to do this in the fall or winter.

1. London Planetree: Varies

  • Plan Before Cutting
  • Special Tools Required
  • Less is More

The London Planetree is one of the trees that you can prune the most, but it doesn’t mean that you should prune it all that regularly. September is the best time to look at your trees and see where you need to prune, but don’t make any cuts just yet.

If you want to remove the lower branches to allow space for cars, buildings, or pedestrians, you want to prune these in the early summer, around the middle of June. Thick branches should be the first to go, and then eliminate any thinner branches. Leave about 10 cms on the trunk so that it can heal itself. You can remove those portions later. After cutting, the trunk should be treated with a sealant.

If you are looking to reshape the crown of the tree, you want to do this in the winter when it isn’t freezing, but it is cold. Most people aim for November or December before it gets too cold, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Virginia is one of the best places to have different kinds of trees that are gorgeous year round. However, in order to have trees that are beautiful and healthy, you do have to put some work in – but you have to be careful as well. As you can see, pruning trees often requires a professional hand and professional tools.

Our team at Above Ground Tree Care works with you to establish your trees and ensure that they grow strong. We’ll prune your trees for you, using the best techniques that ensure success. We can shape your trees, eliminate branches, correct damage, and even eliminate the trees, if necessary.

Call us today at (434) 221-9525 for a free estimate.

Header photo courtesy of Magnus Akselvoll on Flickr!