Pruning is the most common tree maintenance procedure. Landscape trees require a higher level of care to maintain their structural integrity and aesthetics. Pruning must be done with the tree in mind, improper pruning can create lasting damage, look unattractive, and kill the tree.
Pruning during dormancy is the most common practice. It results in a vigorous burst of new
growth in the spring and should be used if that is the desired effect. It is usually best to wait
until the coldest part of winter has passed. Some species, such as maple, walnuts and
birches, may “bleed”—when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful and will cease when
the tree leafs out.
To direct the growth by slowing the branches you don’t want; or to slow “dwarf” the
development of a tree or branch, pruning should be done soon after seasonal growth is
complete. The reason for the slowing effect is that you reduce the total leaf surface, thereby
reducing the amount of food manufactured and sent to the roots. Another reason to prune in
the summer is for corrective purposes. Defective limbs can be seen more easily, or limbs
that hang down too far under the weight of the leaves.