4 Winter Pruning Tips for Trees and Shrubs

Although you might not be thinking about your trees and shrubs once the weather gets cold and you’re spending less time outside, the truth is, there are some benefits to pruning trees and shrubs in winter.

Because we want you to get the most out of your trees and shrubs in your landscape, we are talking about winter pruning tips for trees and shrubs.

Although certain ornamental species can be more sensitive to pruning in winter, there are many trees, including your large shade trees, that can really benefit from this service.

Winter Pruning Tips Dormant Trees & Shrubs

The cold winter months tend to keep people indoors for much of the season. While you might not be thinking about your yard too much during this time, before you know it, spring will be here.

Pruning in the winter is one way to start preparing your yard for the spring. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re considering this service.

1. When You Prune Trees and Shrubs in Winter, It Can Produce Better Results

One of the major benefits of pruning in the wintertime is that without the leaves, your tree care technician can see your tree’s entire canopy much easier. This makes it easier to see problem areas and to make smart cuts that help to improve the overall health of the tree.

Dormant pruning can also make it easier for the tree to heal. To understand this, you must first understand what pruning does.

When pruning, a tree care professional is making selective cuts and removing specific branches or stems to benefit the tree as a whole. But this does create an injury that the tree will need to heal from.

arborist prunes tree with chainsaw

In the winter, when trees are not actively growing, they have extra energy reserves and are able to heal more quickly. Trees are thought to be under less stress when pruned during dormancy.

Again, this can be species-specific. Certain species might be more stressed or more likely injured when pruned in the winter, so it’s important that your tree care professional has a good understanding of which trees on your property will benefit the most.

2. Winter Pruning Can Help Avoid Problems

By pruning in the winter, you can also avoid some potential problems.

For instance, if you remove some of the tree’s crown during the summer, and leaves that aren’t used to being exposed to the sun are now exposed, you can experience leaf burn.

pests on tree leaf

Pests are also most active in the spring and summer, which can make a tree extra fragile to begin with.

Plus, pruning can sometimes welcome pests to certain species as they’ll use the cut area to infest the tree. Oak trees, for example, can be susceptible to beetle infestations.

The best time to prune Oak trees and avoid problems is when they are dormant and the beetles aren’t active.

3. Remember: Timing is Important for Aesthetics

Another point to keep in mind when pruning in winter is that timing is everything.

By getting your pruning done in the winter, you can ensure that your trees and shrubs are going to look their best once spring rolls around.

technician inspects shrubs

Take, for instance, a big Rhododendron that might be blocking a large window in your home. While it could handle some hard pruning in the fall, it’s going to look like a stick figure the entire winter.

Maximize Your Trees' Health: Explore Our Essential Tree Care Guide

However, if you wait until late winter to prune it, you’ll only have a few weeks of it looking like a stick figure and you’ll soon get that spring flush growth that will hide all of the cuts.

4. Pruning in Winter Can Be Easier on Your Property

It’s also worth mentioning that wintertime pruning is also easier on the yard when the ground is frozen.

Low branches in winter

If you’ve ever had tree work done before, you know that it involves heavy equipment, and even with the best efforts to be careful, it’s going to leave some ruts or marks. But when the ground is frozen this is much less of a concern.

Your tree care professionals will also have better access to your yard and to the tree itself when things are not actively blooming.

Choosing a Tree Pruning Service That Will Get You the Best Results

No matter what time of the year you are having pruning performed, it’s important that you find a company that truly knows their stuff.

There are many nuances to pruning and it can be more complicated than people tend to realize. You want to know that whoever is performing this work knows exactly what to look for on your tree in order to make smart cuts.


At the end of the day, pruning is about promoting your trees’ optimal health. While there are many reasons to prune trees and shrubs in winter, it will definitely depend upon the species and upon making strategic cuts.

When performed properly, pruning ends up being protection of your investment in your landscape.

Joshua Tree Experts offers tree care services to homeowners, including dormant pruning and trimming. To find your local branch, check out our locations here. If you’d like to have a tree on your property assessed, give us a call at 833-JTE-TREE or contact us for a tree inspection quote today!

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