Procrastination – The Key to Successful Fall Pruning


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CHARLOTTE – Pruning too soon in the fall can harm your trees and shrubs. So, when it comes to fall pruning, procrastination is a virtue.Although pruning a little branch or two may be OK, bigger tasks like thinning the crown or cutting a big limb can wait. Why delay? Consider these points:

  • In early fall, pruning wounds close more slowly and plants are more at risk for fungal diseases than at other times of year. For most trees, the best time for major pruning is late winter to early spring because wounds close faster.
  • Pruning in late summer and early fall may also stimulate new growth, which has little time to harden before cold weather comes. The cold can harm this tender new growth, and the tree may need more pruning in spring to remove the damage.
  • If you want to prune in fall, wait until trees drop their leaves and are dormant—usually October or November. After leaf drop, you can see the tree’s structure and identify disease and insect problems more easily. Dormancy (especially late winter to early spring) is also a good time to prune evergreens because vigorous spring growth will hide pruning wounds.
  • An important part of late fall pruning should include removing dead, diseased, and damaged wood as soon as possible — for tree health and your safety. For the big jobs such as removing big limbs, high branches, and any other tree job that you’re not prepared to do, hire a professional arborist.
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