Do you, like many homeowners, consider winter a poor time to prune your trees? The leaves are off, so how can you tell between dead and live wood? It's bitterly cold outside, so who would want to come out and work in your yard anyway?
Actually, the idea that tree work should only be done in the warm months is a common misconception. Winter is an ideal time for pruning for a number of reasons.
With the leaves off the trees, it's actually easier for an arborist to gauge your tree as a whole and decide where the shaping, corrective pruning, weight reduction and, yes, even dead wood pruning should be done. Though perhaps difficult for the average homeowner to spot, to the trained eye, dead wood always looks drastically different than live wood, even after the leaves have fallen. Don't believe us? Take a look at these pictures and see if you can spot the difference. We'll give you a hint: if you need some help, ask a bud...
If you spotted the tiny buds on the ends of the twigs in the first image, then you're on your way to becoming an arboricultural expert! While it may be a subtle difference to some, practiced pruners can trim away the dead wood in the winter as quickly as (or quicker than) they can in the summer.
In addition to improved visibility, in the winter the ground dries and freezes, which makes your otherwise soft and squishy lawn easy terrain for equipment and ground crew hauling heavy bundles of brush. The closer we can get our equipment to your trees, the safer it is for us and the less expensive it is for you! Not to mention, now that your summer annuals have gone, there's much less risk of damage occurring to your landscaping. Of course, Blue Ox takes pride in always leaving your yard looking better than it was by taking special care of every bloom and blade we cross.
And finally--and perhaps most importantly--there's the matter of transmittable tree diseases. Many diseases are more active in the growing seasons of spring and summer, meaning there's much less risk of spreading disease from tree to tree through pruning in the winter. That's not to say you can't prune a diseased tree in the growing seasons. An educated arborist knows how to spot diseases and keeps his tools clean as he prunes to prevent spreading when the diseases are active.
Want to know what else you can do to care for your trees this winter?
Have your trees cabled and braced in the winter, when your arborist can spot risks and weaknesses and can get the cables around the tree unhindered by leaves and blooms.
Have your dead, dying, invasive or unwanted trees removed in the winter when it's easier to lower them to the ground without having to dodge long leafy limbs and summertime landscaping.
Have your healthy trees mulched to increase ground temperature and improve soil nutrients around the root systems.
And don't forget to get your trees inspected for weaknesses before the ice storms start! Remember: pruning or removing a damaged tree will always cost more than pruning or removing the same tree before it was damaged--increased risk means increased time.