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Spring Tree Trimming And Pruning Tips


As the weather begins to warm and people begin to go outside again, we are often asked what sort of tree trimming and shrub pruning can and should be done in spring. This guide can help prepare you to get your trees and shrubs healthy, safe, and looking great this spring.

Safety pruning and removing dead or damaged limbs: Anytime of the year.

Dead, damaged, and unsafe tree limbs can represent a significant safety hazard. Safety pruning of your property to reduce the risk from your trees does not need to be delayed and can be done anytime of the year. The removal of dead limbs will not affect the health of your trees, and proper pruning cuts of dead limbs can actually help the tree better close the wound and ward of attacks by insects and pathogens.

When to prune flowering trees and shrubs?

Flowering trees and shrubs can significantly enhance the beauty of your property, and we are frequently asked when is the proper time to trim these plants. This is a very important question, as the improper timing of pruning flowering trees and shrubs can prevent or reduce the number of blooms you get this year or next.

  • General rule: Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs after flowering finishes. Spring flowering trees and shrubs set their flower buds in the summer and fall. Therefore, if you trim these plants in spring before flowering, you will remove these flower buds and get reduced or no flowers. Pruning after flowering allows for vigorous growth during the summer and fall and results in numerous flower buds. Examples of spring flowering trees and shrubs include Redbud trees, flowering fruit trees like cherry and plum, azaleas and rhododendrons.
  • General rule: Prune summers flowering trees and shrubs in late winter and early spring. Summer flowering woody plants bloom on current season growth. While these plants can also be trimming following bloom, trimming early in the growing season can promote more vigorous growth and flower production. Examples of summer flowering trees and shrubs include crepe myrtles, Japanese tree lilac, butterfly bush, abelia, smoke bush, and spirea.
  • Minor trimming: Anytime. Healthy trees and shrubs are quite resilient. Stay shoots or unruly branches can be trimmed at any time. Minor pruning is not going to hurt your plants or significantly affect their blooms.

Spring tree trimming and sap production.

Some tree species when pruned in spring can “bleed” from the cuts as sap moving within the tree will escape through the cut. This bleeding does not cause any significant harm to the tree, but it can be avoided by delaying pruning until after leaves have emerged in late spring. Maples, birches, and walnuts are some trees that may leak sap from spring wounds.

Questions on spring pruning of trees and shrubs? Get a free consultation with an ISA-certified arborist!

We are always happy to discuss and provide advice on tree and shrub health and safety. This is why we offer free estimates and consultations with our ISA-certified arborists. In addition, follow this link for some excellent guidance on tree pruning throughout the year.