When is the Best Time of Year to Trim Trees


Pruning is an essential part of tree health and maintenance, but it can ruin the tree if not done correctly. Trees need to be trimmed for them to grow well and become strong. The optimal cycle depends on the species and size but typically is 3-5 years.

Understanding when to trim and prune your trees is an important part of tree ownership, but you’re not alone in figuring it out. We will help you understand tree pruning essentials and explain the best time of year to trim trees in our blog post below!

Before we can explain the best times to trim your trees, you’ll want to ensure you understand the reasons behind your trimming.

Although light trimming can be done any time of year, more intense tree trimming is dependent on seasonality. 

Why Fall and Winter is the Best Time of Year to Prune Trees

Because trees are dormant in the fall and winter, tree pruning is most commonly done during these seasons. Trimming during the tree’s dormant season has a wide range of benefits including: quick healing time, less risk of disease and pest infestation, and less flowing sap. 

Trimming your trees during the fall and winter seasons can also be much easier than trimming in the hotter seasons. The cold ground will give the arborists easy access to the tree, while the sparse tree canopy makes branches and limbs easier to see, creating a more effective tree trimming project.

Lastly, by trimming trees in the winter, they will heal faster and be healthy just time for spring!

Oak Trees

When it’s wintertime and you want to take care of your oak trees, make sure that they are dormant before pruning. This will help prevent the spread of a fungal disease called Oak Wilt! Feel free to remove dead or broken branches any time of year.

Honey Locusts

Honey locusts should be trimmed during the late winter when the air is dry, and they are dominant.

Maple Trees

Also, Maple trees are known to bleed sap heavily during winter, so it’s a good time for trimming.

Elm Trees

We recommend trimming elm trees in the fall and winter to keep sap from leaking. Be careful though elm trees can rot where large or poor cuts are made.

Needled Evergreens

Needled evergreens like spruce (Picea) and fir (Abies) can be pruned in late winter before they grow.

Apple Trees

The best time of year to trim apple trees is between February and end of April. Trimming apple trees any other time of year could lead to growth issues.

Fruit Trees

There are two times of the year when you should prune your fruit trees. The first is in late winter or early spring, and this will help them grow stronger stems with ample leaves for protection against harsh weather.

The benefits of pruning your fruit trees are two-fold. For one, an open canopy allows more sunlight to reach the ground, and secondly, it will produce healthier harvests.

The best part of pruning your trees in the fall or winter is that you can expect a burst of new growth in the spring, leading to a healthier tree and more beautiful yard!

When Spring is the Best Time of Year to Prune Trees

It’s best practice to trim trees after their flowers have bloomed, but before the flowers fade. If you tree blooms in the summer, you will want to prune them during winter or early spring. 

Lilac and Forsythia

Lilac and Forsythia are two of the most popular shrubs to have around your house during springtime. They bloom on last season’s growth, so make sure you prune them within two weeks after seeing color! Otherwise, they won’t be as colorful.

Hedges and Scrubs

Hedges need to be pruned to keep them healthy and dense. Trimming should take place once during the springtime when its new growth comes out and again in late summer.

When Summer is the Best Time of Year to Prune Trees

Unlike winter pruning which causes a tree to further grow and develop, summer pruning should be used to slow the growth of undesirable branches. This type of pruning results in “dwarfing” the tree or branches by directing it’s growth. Summer pruning could be completed after seasonal growth has ended. 

Another reason you might want to prune your trees in the summer is for corrective purposes. Defective, dead and diseased limbs can be seen more easily in the summer, allowing you to quickly address the problem. 

When Not To Trim Your Trees

The late summer or early fall are not the best times to trim your trees. During the fall, trees are preparing for dormancy. Trimming your trees during this time won’t allow them to heal before winter, possibly leading to disease or decay.

It’s always a good idea to call a tree care specialist. They will know what stage a tree is in and if it’s a good decision to trim or not, no matter the season.

One Last Note

If you notice that if branches of a tree or shrub are dead, it’s best to take them off at any time. However, if their too weak or their overall health is not good enough, then pruning might be necessary before they can be removed from your lawn/garden.


Now that you understand when you should trim and prune your trees, are you ready to get your project started? Our experts at Brents Tree Service can help you with all your pruning needs. Give us a call today!