Ah, Autumn. Have you noticed how beautiful the leaves are lately? As they change color and fall from the trees, your attention should start to shift to the branches they’re falling from. While Autumn is not the best time for major tree pruning, it is an ideal time to focus on your trees and determine whether or not they need attention. Here are some signs a tree needs pruning and what you can do about it.
Don’t Prune Too Much in Autumn
Trees may be attracting all sorts of attention in this season, but they should not inspire major pruning. When you prune, it encourages new growth. However, trees are currently preparing to go dormant in the winter. They’re losing their leaves as part of this process. The last thing they want to do is use up this energy to grow. Plus, any new growth will be too weak to survive the harsh winter.
Also, autumn days may still be warm, but temperatures tend to plummet at night. This dramatic change shocks a tree and weakens it even more. If the tree happens to produce sap, it can start to seep through any pruning cuts and then freeze once the temperature drops, causing more of an unsightly issue.
So unless there’s a dire need to prune a tree, you’ll want to hold off until the tree goes dormant next season. For now, enjoy the colors and focus on raking up the leaves. Leave the pruning for the winter or early spring.
When Tree Pruning Can’t Wait
Even before the leaves start to change and fall, you may notice certain branches on the tree that have no leaves at all. This is a sure sign your tree needs pruning. Even though autumn is not the ideal time of year to prune trees, there are certain circumstances when it’s okay to trim a branch or two.
Noticing branches that are dead, diseased, or broken is on this list of exceptions. These weaker areas of the tree are more prone to breaking off during a storm and causing even more damage. Disease can also spread quickly if infected branches aren’t removed. Dead sections of a tree may also indicate disease or pest infestation. The sooner you take care of the issues, the more likely your tree can bounce back and regain its healthy status.
Signs A Tree That Needs Pruning
Besides the major signs of stress, there are several other instances when tree pruning is necessary.
- Branches over power lines or structures: Any branches that come in contact with power lines or structures should be carefully pruned by a professional. Not only is the pruning process dangerous, but it could cause more damage to your home or property if done incorrectly.
- Mis-shaped trees: It may look unique and cool to you, but trees growing weirdly may not be healthy for the tree or safe for its environment. Notice if the tree is leaning to one side or if there could be uneven weight distribution between branches. This could cause these branches to break. Correcting any shape or structural issues takes time. It may not be corrected in one round of pruning, especially since you never want to prune more than a third of your tree’s branches at one time.
- Too much growth: It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Trees need to maintain a healthy shape and even distribution of branches. Sometimes a growth spurt can lead to too many branches crisscrossing and weakening the tree overall. Thin tree branches can also grow too tall, causing them to bend or break with the weight of their leaves. If you can’t see through the branches, it’s too dense. Regular pruning can help prevent this problem.
- Cracks in the bark: The bark of the trunk is just as important as the branches. If you notice any deep cracks, discoloration, or extensive shedding, it’s time for a professional consultation.
Tree Pruning Tips
Whether you have a branch that needs immediate trimming or you want to prep for winter pruning, there are a few things to remember:
- Wait till it’s dry. Never prune in wet weather or when rain is in the immediate forecast. Excess moisture can lead to disease on newly cut branches.
- Use clean tools. Make sure the blades are clean and sharp to ensure the best cut and prevent any spread of disease.
- Call a pro. If pruning requires a ladder, hazardous branch, or any other precarious situation, it’s best to call a professional to at least consult on the job.
Contact LawnKing Gardens if you have any questions about tree pruning now or in the winter. Regular maintenance, no matter the season, can help the tree stay healthy year after year.