When to Trim Trees

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Trees in the yard can serve many purposes, from giving shade on a hot afternoon to providing a windbreak. Ornamental trees are popular as a focal point in gardens, while a backyard fruit tree gives shade, beauty and a harvest. Whether you trim the tree to maintain its shape or prevent disease, it's important not to cause more harm.

Spring Pruning

  • Trim broken branches on a sapling before spring planting.

Summer Pruning

  • Trim elms, dogwoods, maples, yellowwoods and birches in the late summer to prevent "bleed." Avoid trimming apple trees in the summer.

Fall Pruning

  • Ornamental trees should be trimmed in the fall, after they've lost the blooms.

Winter Pruning

  • Avoid trauma to trees by pruning in the winter while they're dormant.

Trimming Damaged Limbs

  • Prune split or broken limbs and branches immediately rather than splinting them, and let cuts heal on their own. Dressing may keep the wood damp and encourage decay.

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