When to Trim Trees and Shrubs (Part 2 of 2)

Viburnum in BloomDeciding when to prune/trim is confusing to many people because there is no one-size-fits-all answer and even the experts can’t always agree. Yet, it is the most commonly asked question of gardeners, landscapers and arborists! Pruning of live branches is not as critical as many people think, but it is worthy of discussion.

The Best Times for Pruning: (the opposite of Part 1; Worst Times)

  • A mild, dry and seasonal day
  • When the plant is healthy and hasn’t recently been disturbed by construction, storms and/or heavy pruning
  • It depends on how much you plan to cut off;
    A Heavy Trim >50% cutbacks of shrubs, the best time is late winter, early spring
    A Medium Trim ~25% maximum amount to remove annually, early spring and summer
    A Light Trim <15% anytime of season
  • It also depends on whether or not you will miss the full flower effect;
    If you won’t miss some of the blooms, prune anytime of season
    For plants that bloom on current season growth, in late winter, early spring
    For plants that bloom on previous season growth, right after bloom
  • Lastly, Dead branches can be pruned anytime!

In general, the optimal times for ornamental tree and shrub trimming is early spring and summer and those should be the go-to times if you are unsure. Don’t let timing keep you from grabbing your pruners if a haircut is truly needed and you just can’t wait!

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