Landscaping in the Winter: Pruning

November 24th 2022
Brandon Opperthauser

Winter Pruning in the Landscape

As fall begins to wind down, we move right into winter. Most of our perennials have been cut back, the hedges cleaned up for the holidays, and leaves removed from the garden beds to prepare for the winter weather. You might be asking, what is left to do in the landscape?

Since most deciduous trees and shrubs have dropped their leaves, winter is a great time to prune most ornamental trees and shrubs, but not all!

Let’s go through some essential items to remember when pruning this winter.

Winter Pruning: What to Prune?

winter pruning

When deciding what to prune in winter, use this general rule: Most summer flowering shrubs should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Deciduous shrubs that aren’t grown for flowers can also be trimmed back during this time. If you are wondering what trees to cut back in winter, the answer is simple: most trees. Late winter through early spring is an excellent time to trim almost all deciduous trees. 

Winter Pruning: What to Prune?

A general rule of thumb for safe pruning is to prune plants after flowering is complete. Some plants, like Endless Summer Hydrangea, set their spring buds for next year during the fall and should be pruned in the late summer. It is essential to know what you are pruning and when it should be pruned, and if you are unsure, you should contact your designer or local arborist.

Technical Tips for Pruning

When pruning, be sure to prune crossing branches and undesirable branches first. After every few cuts, you should step back and walk around the tree to ensure you are creating the desired effect.

Keep an eye out for branches that may break due to snow and ice damage, and try to proactively remove these as they can cause more damage if left to break by nature. Remove overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the tree’s crown.

Always remember to remove only 1/3 of a plant when pruning. In other words, if the plant is six feet tall, cut off at most about two feet.

Why Prune your Landscape in the Winter?

Pruning in the winter helps reduce the spread of disease.

Insects spread the most deadly plant diseases. Insects are most common in warmer months and are attracted to open wounds on trees from storm damage or pruning. Other conditions, such as oak wilt, are spread from tree to tree through interconnected root systems. These diseases are dormant through winter, allowing us to prune without risk to the plant or surrounding plants.

Call today to secure a spot on our Winter schedule! Spots are filling up quickly.