Winter Pruning! PLUS: A Reminder of the Dangers of “Topping”

tree branches in winter with snow and frost

By this point in December, most homeowners are more concerned with the trees in their living rooms than the trees in their front yards. However, these early winter months are actually an ideal time to give serious thought to preparing your trees for winter. A little effort now will keep your trees – and the property beneath them – safe, and it will ensure that they come back even stronger when spring returns.

But pruning is more than simply cutting, hacking and slashing branches. Pruning is a specialized skill that requires experience and training. Improper pruning techniques can create safety hazards while the work is being performed (tree care is one of the most dangerous professions) and can also leave behind a dangerous situation after the crew has left.

As the authority in tree care, CVTS-L’s arborists have the expertise required to prune your tree to maximize safety and visual appeal without resorting to – and we can’t stress this enough – “topping” (more on the dangers of topping below).

Here is why you shouldn’t wait to get onto our winter pruning schedule.

The advantages of winter pruning

1. Winter pruning offers safety today and tomorrow.

Proper pruning can increase storm-worthiness for the blustery winter ahead and ensure that they maintain their health and strength throughout the year. Trees that haven’t been properly pruned are at risk of losing branches or even failing completely leaving anything – and anyone – below them at risk.

2. Winter pruning offers maximum visibility in the canopy.

Whether an arborist is working from the ground or in the canopy, taking the leaves out of the equation makes the job visibly easier and safer.

3. It is usually easier to get on our schedule during the winter months.

Tree care is a year-round profession, but there tends to be more scheduling availability during the winter months. Beat the springtime rush by preparing your trees now.

No reputable arborist will “top” your trees

If you’ve been following our blog or our social media, you have probably noticed that we talk a lot about the evils associated with “topping” trees. And yet we still see the practice being performed in our community.

If you don’t know anything about tree care and tree health, topping might sound like an ideal solution: no branches, no danger, no mess. But in reality, that’s not how it works.

Topping makes trees less healthy.

It causes internal decay and stress leaving the tree vulnerable to insects and diseases. Trees are capable of healing themselves within limits, but these are wounds that they cannot recover from.

Topping increases overall maintenance down the road.

The primary reason people top trees is because they think it will reduce the mess created by the trees: leaves, seeds, birds, etc. However, it is a trick that only works once, and makes things worse afterwards. The tree – having been so severely injured – will put all of its resources into recovering those branches in the spring, which means more leaves, seeds and mess.

Topping is aesthetically unpleasing.

It’s ugly. If you think you hate your tree now, wait until you see it after it has been topped. Trees can also affect your property value. A healthy, well-maintained tree adds a sense of natural beauty, but it also provides valuable shade. Topped trees offer neither. While you don’t technically owe your neighbors anything when it comes to the trees on your property, you might also consider the view from their houses. They have to look at this ugly tree, too.

The elements of good winter pruning:

Pruning is precision work. It’s all about performing the right cut on the right branch using the right technique.

The four main types of pruning that we encounter include are:

  • Crown Raising
  • Crown Cleaning
  • Crown Reduction
  • Crown Restoration

You can learn more about the different kinds of pruning here.

Remember: Good prunings result in strong, safe and healthy trees, but bad prunings – especially topping – can only make a bad situation worse.

Contact us today to get your trees on our schedule.