Winter is an excellent time to prune trees and since there is a limited amount of outdoor work for us right now it is a good time to give attention to one of the major components of our landscape- shade trees. Let’s take a look at what we need to do to protect our investment in trees. When trees are placed in the proper location and are maintained they provide huge benefits for property owners. Trees do a number of things for us:

increase property values,

reduce energy costs by reducing wind and providing shade

provide a better environment for living

a better habitat for wildlife

improve the beauty of our surroundings

This is only true when trees are in good safe condition. Developing the basic scaffold branching and other key structural items is important when trees are at a young age. If large shade trees are not maintained or are butchered, like a lot of them are by “topping”, they can become a major liability causing property damage and very costly to remove.

Two of the photos included here show examples of properly and poorly pruned shade trees. The tree with the open branching has been thinned-out and allows the wind to blow through the tree without damage and provides filtered sunlight through the canopy for plants that are growing nearby while providing a great environment for people. The photo of the tree that has been “topped” has excessive suckers, many dead “stubs” that will provide entry points for insects and decay with the eventual destruction of the tree.

When younger trees are pruned be sure to remove lower branches that will interfere with movement around the tree. Remember lower branches should be removed when the branches are small, these branches do not gain in elevation from the ground as the tree grows, and must be removed. Never leave any stubs as shown in the tree in figure 3, again, these stubs die and become entry points for disease and decay.

The dormant season, like we are in now, is a good time to prune your shade trees so they are ready to grow in the spring, in all the right places. Pruning smaller trees can be done by the homeowner when basic guidelines are followed. Larger trees will require a certified arborist to take care of the pruning that is required.

For more on the basics of pruning and info on proper pruning of shade trees go to or

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32 years of growing

Meadow View Growers

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