Top 10 Signs Your Trees Need Pruning

Are your trees looking a little lifeless lately? They may just need a good pruning! Read on to learn 10 signs your trees need pruning.

Did you know living near trees not only helps you live longer but happier, too? Living near trees has many great benefits, such as shade from the sunshine during hot summers and watching the leaves change color during the fall.

While they are pretty to look at, they do require some care and maintenance. Whether you live in the woods or have some trees out front for landscaping purposes, you should know when to prune your trees. Leaving them unpruned can cause a hazard for you, your family, and visiting guests.

Not sure when you need to prune your trees? Here are 10 signs your trees need pruning, along with some other tips and tricks. Check it out below!

When Not to Prune Trees

Before we get started on how to tell if your trees need pruning, let's discuss when the worst time of year is to prune your trees.

During the Fall

The trees look beautiful with their changing colors and falling leaves. You may have a craving to go prune crazy and help the scenery look more beautiful. But fall is the worst time to prune trees!

Pruning encourages new growth on plants and trees. Unfortunately, these same plants are getting ready to go dormant for the winter months ahead. Pruning them now would only cause these plants to weaken.

While it may look like fall, some days still get pretty warm. If you decide to prune on a warmer day and then the temperatures drop at night, you're causing the plant even more harm.

When you prune, sap rises up into the plant. Once temperatures drop below freezing, this sap freezes, causing an unsightly scene.

When It's Wet

If you've had a lot of rain recently or morning dew is still around, avoid pruning at all costs. Pruning when it's wet or damp outside spreads a lot of diseases through the plants.

This is due to the growth of microbes, which is stimulated from damp weather. These microbes will take advantage of your new prune job and spread like wildfire. Instead, wait until the sun dries things up.

Best Time to Prune Trees

Now that you know when not to prune your trees (during the fall or when it's cold) let's talk about when the best time to prune is.

Winter or Spring Season

Waiting to prune during the winter means most plants have gone dormant and their leaves are gone. This makes for an easier time when it comes to cutting branches and limbs.

Once spring hits you can get your shears and clippers out. Just make sure you want until the trees have finished flowering in the spring before giving them a trim.

Signs You Need to Prune Trees

So now that you're an expert on when to prune trees, it's time to go over the signs you need to prune them. Check out these top ten signs your trees need some pruning.

1. Broken Branches

The first sign of a tree in need of some pruning is broken branches. If you see any branches which are broken, splintering, or even bowing you need to prune it as soon as possible.

Once these branches break or weaken they become extremely hazardous. You don't want a branch to fall onto a family member, visitor, or even yourself because of lack of pruning.

Not all broken or splintering branches will be easily noticed, so do a preliminary walk around your property after each season or a particularly bad storm.

2. Misshapen Trees

While you may admire the unique way your front yard tree is growing, it's not necessarily healthy for the tree. Misshapen trees are trees which grow in a wrong way.

The result of misshapen trees can cause property damage due to uneven weight distribution between the branches. This can also cause broken or splintered branches.

Because pruning inspires new growth, you should make sure to do regular maintenance and pruning on misshapen trees as they might grow faster than normal. Plus, you can make sure your tree grows in a nice shape.

3. Dead/Diseased Limbs

We mentioned diseased plants and trees earlier in this article when it came to pruning when it's wet. This isn't the only time trees may become diseased, so if you notice some health issues it's a sure sign of needing to get pruned.

If you don't prune once you notice some unhealthy habits, the disease can spread quickly and even kill your tree! If this is the case, you may need to consider removing the tree altogether.

While not all trees die from diseases, you may notice some deadwood. These dead branches or parts of your trunk may also indicate a pest issue. Ensure you remove the dead or dying limbs to keep your tree happy and healthy.

Like with a diseased tree, if you don't catch it and act quickly enough it could spread to the rest of the tree and do even more harm.

4. Branches Over Power Lines

One sure sign of a tree in need of pruning is if the branches are growing close or even on top of power lines. This is extremely dangerous and should be inspected and pruned by a professional. Make sure you give this tree regular inspections for safety precautions.

Not only can branches over power lines cause a threat, but other wandering branches as well. Trees with branches growing over your roof or other structure on your property need careful pruning.

While you should handle smaller branches like this with care, you should call in a professional to take care of bigger and stronger limbs. This ensures you stay safe while avoiding any property damage during the tree pruning.

5. Trees Damaged by Storm

Although tree branches are typically quite strong, they do become victims after storms such as heavy snow, rain, or even wind. If you've experienced a lot of wind storms or rain recently you should walk around your property and check out your trees.

Storms cause most of the splintered and broken limbs you'll find. It can also pose a threat to your property if left unattended.

6. Too Much Growth

We know you love seeing the growth of your plants and landscaping, but too much growth can be a bad thing. If you notice your trees growing quickly, it might be time to give them a quick pruning. This will avoid any property damage and keep them looking healthy.

This is especially true for trees you have planted for landscaping. Unlike in a forest or wooded area, the trees don't have to compete for sunlight. This makes them grow tall and out very quickly.

Some trees, however, tend to grow out instead of up. If this is the case, you'll need to make sure you regularly trim the branches. The last thing you want is for them to become too heavy and begin to splinter and break.

7. Weak Branches

We've already covered what can happen to trees if they become infested with pests or disease. Although you may take care of the problem before a branch or limb dies, you may have some weak branches to take care of.

If you notice them bowing or snapping easily, it's time to get pruning. Because the branches are weak, they're more likely to break and hurt someone. By trimming the branches you'll remove the threat and encourage new growth for healthy limbs.

8. Dense Trees

This sign is an important one and one you may not even notice right away. You may think your tree is growing healthy and strong, but if you can't see through the branches, your tree is too dense.

Thick branches are extremely hazardous during heavy winds or storms, leaving the potential for property damage. This is because the branches and limbs are heavy due to their high-density.

To avoid this, take a peek at some of your trees. If you can't see through the branches clearly, it's time to get your clippers out and start to prune.

9. Cracks in the Bark

Trees with cracks in their bark or branches indicate something's wrong. Typically this is a pest or disease. Left untouched and the tree will likely die.

A quick fix is to prune the branches with deep cracks. This helps save the tree will giving it a chance to bounce back with healthier growth.

10. Crossing Branches

Like misshapen trees, trees with crossing branches are a tell-tale sign it's in need of a prune. These branches cause huge problems for trees, especially if left untreated.

Because they aren't growing in a healthy form, they'll likely decay and die over time. Not only will these branches be affected, but the decay can spread to other branches throughout the tree. The worst case scenario is your entire tree decays and needs removing.

A quick pruning of crossing trees can avoid this outcome, though!

Knowing What to Prune

Now that you know when to prune and you've learned the signs your trees need pruning, you should learn what exactly to prune. While some signs indicate what to prune (dead or dying limbs, twisted branches) others are a bit vague.

The most important thing to remember is that pruning allows the shrubs or trees air and sunlight, which are essential for their survival. Not only will this keep them alive but it allows for healthy growing plants as well.

When you get ready to start pruning, remove any dying or dead branches you come across. If you spot a diseased branch, make sure to cut between the sick spot and body of the branch.

Next, you'll want to look for any limbs which are splintered and broken. If you find some crossing branches cut the smaller branch. Other branches in need of trimming are those which are hazardous to lawnmowers or foot traffic.

What Plants to Prune

Okay, you've waited until the right time of year to prune, so what exactly should you look at? Not every tree and plant needs a haircut, and many only need a quick trim.

Fruit trees need pruning the most and even then they only need some touching up. If you notice some flowering shrubs taking over your landscaping feel free to give them some snips. Not only will this help them look healthier but they'll grow better, too.

Giving them some pruning will also discourage pests and diseases to take over and spread. Keep in mind some plants like spireas and lilacs are best pruned in the spring right after they bloom.

Others, like deciduous shrubs, are best to wait until winter to take care of.

Pruning Tips

So, do you think you're ready to start pruning? You may have all the necessary knowledge of what to prune and when, but do you have the right tools?

If so, great! Here are some tips on keeping your tools clean.

Keep Your Tools Clean

After a long day of pruning, we know you want to call it a day and relax inside. As luxurious as that may seem, it's extremely important you take the time to clean your tools once you're done outside.

This is especially true if you've cut diseased branches. Thoroughly cleaning your tools before heading onto a new branch or tree will avoid the spread of disease from one limb or tree to the next.

You can easily disinfect pruning tools with hot water and a teaspoon of bleach. If you're just looking to clean your tools, warm soapy water will do the trick. Make sure to dry your tools once you're down to avoid rust and damage.

Signs Your Trees Need Pruning

Congratulations! Now you're an expert in when to prune plants and trees, what to prune, and signs your trees need pruning.

If you're having trouble with certain trees, want to install some landscaping, or have tree-specific questions contact us as soon as you can! We'd love to hear from you.

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