Late February Pruning Tips

In parts of the country, you can find 6 to 12 inches of snow covering the ground. Of course, this pretty much grinds a lot of February landscaping maintenance to a halt. Yet late February is a smart time to prune if you are past the worst of cold temperatures in your region and before the trees or shrubs start their spring explosion of growth.  

Generally speaking, it is safe to prune summer-flowering shrubs and trees at this time – late winter - just before the tree shows new growth. Keep in mind that you should prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees when flowers fade in the spring.

Pruning can be very good for a shrub or tree if done properly; it can rejuvenate growth, help guide and direct the growth of the plant, and encourage fruit production.

Pruning Tips

When to prune –

  • Late winter -- Most shrubs and trees can be pruned in late winter. This is a time when it is perfect to shape a tree; if the tree is evergreen it is easier to see the exterior shape and if it is not evergreen it is easier to see the interior branches without the leaves.
  • Dry winter – Prune on a dry day which is mild. Dry conditions are better for the shrub or tree (and you as well).

What to prune –

  • Dead branches - First prune out dead, broken and diseased branches.
  • Lower branches – Limb up a tree or shrub by snipping off the lower branches very close to the trunk
  • Crowded branches – Remove small branches or overgrown branches in order to increase the level of air that reached the trunk of the tree – this increased air will help prevent fungal issues
  • Suckers – Suckers grow up form the roots and, in some instances, can grow wildly forming shrub thickets

How to prune –

  • Angle pruning – Prune at a 45-degree angle for best affect. Angle it, then snip, with the lowest point of the cut precisely opposite a newly developing bud
  • Node pruning – Prune at the node, which is where a twig or branch attaches to another

If you ever have a doubt about cutting or pruning a tree – DO NOT PRUNE. In order to maintain safety for yourself and the tree, definitely consider contacting a certified arborist before doing any heavy pruning that may be beyond your skill set. Certified arborists and experienced landscapers are experienced and confident in pruning and can easily take care of a challenging pruning situation.

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