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Carpenter Costin Blog

Best Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Understanding the importance of pruning is only half the battle. Next you must determine when and how often to prune your trees and shrubs.

Pruning is critical to ensure the health and appeal of your trees and shrubs. Once you recognize the importance of pruning, you then need to figure out when and how frequently to prune the various trees and shrubs across your property. The following information should serve as a guideline to the proper timing for tree and shrub pruning.

Shrub Pruning

Summer is the ideal time for shrub pruning, as you’ll enjoy the spring and summer flowering of the shrubs, and then prune them before they begin to develop buds for the next year. Wait too long to prune certain shrubs and you’ll actually be pruning off the buds of next year’s flowers. Shrubs, like rhododendron and hydrangea, should be pruned every summer to ensure the desired shape. Pruning shrubs every year will ensure they stay healthy, and maintain the shape and look you desire.

Ornamental Treesornamental tree pruning

Like shrubs, it is a good idea to prune ornamental trees every summer. Flowering trees, like the Kousa Dogwood, will benefit immensely from yearly summer pruning. Pruning after the spring and early summer flowering will allow you to enjoy the beautiful flowering, but make certain that the tree is in optimal shape for next year’s flowering cycle. It may be appropriate to prune ornamental trees every two years, but when you start waiting three or more years between prunings, you will run the risk of losing control of the tree’s shape and health.

Shade Trees

Mature shade trees should be pruned every two to five years to ensure proper light and airflow to keep the tree safe and healthy. The best time to prune, for both the Arborist and the homeowner, is during the winter months, from December to March. Pruning shade trees in the winter when there is no foliage ensures an Arborist easy access to the tree and clear sight lines. As an added benefit, most tree service companies provide a winter discount as the work is generally easier at this time.

Now that you’re equipped with a valuable pruning timeline, take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Certified Arborist to discuss your tree and shrub pruning plan.


shrub pruning timeline

Pruning foundation shrubs every summer will keep them healthy and attractive.



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