The Denver Homeowner’s Guide to Winter Tree Trimming

The air is crisp and winter is coming! Landscape and garden projects may be far from your mind, but winter tree trimming is essential this season to prepare your trees to be healthy, happy, and strong come springtime. 

When is the Best Time to Trim Trees?

Spring and summer is when you get most of your best outdoor gardening and landscaping work done. The weather is nice enough for major projects and general upkeep and maintenance. You might assume that winter is too cold to get much done in the yard, but guess again! 

Although tree trimming can be accomplished year-round, one the best opportunities to trim trees in Denver is during the winter months. Here’s why: during the winter season trees go into a state called dormancy. During this time, trees naturally go to sleep, take a break, and stop producing new growth. Trimming during the wintertime will not cause the tree any stress and will encourage new growth to come springtime. 

Trimming Fruiting and Flowering Trees

According to a guide by the Colorado State University Extension, trimming fruiting and flowering trees annually is key to their ongoing health, growth, and productivity. Light and water are the keys to maximizing potential fruit yield. With proper annual trimming, you can control the tree structure, which in turn affects the tree’s light intake and crop load. In general, trees that go long periods without trimming usually produce very little growth and small fruit.

Best practices include:

  • Thinning out branches to create stronger branch attachments and dense growth 
  • Prune old spurs to encourage new ones
  • Trim branches to create an open center, maximizing sunlight to all parts of the tree

Winter Trimming Tips for Denver Front Range Trees

Don’t just reach for the trimming shears and hastily start hacking. To care for your trees, follow these tips from the Colorado State Forest Service:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you saw. Don’t remove any branches without a reason.
  • Remove any torn, dead or broken branches.
  • Try to develop or maintain one dominant vertical top stem, or leader, and don’t cut off the tops of trees.
  • Space the main branches along the trunk, and prevent branches below the permanent canopy from growing upright or too large.
  • Always prune just outside the branch collar – the point where one branch leaves a larger one (or the trunk), often discerned by raised or wrinkled bark.
  • Limit pruning of newly planted trees to the removal of dead, damaged or crossing limbs, or those interfering with the main stem.
  • Avoid removing more than 25 percent of a tree’s branches in any one year.

Benefits of Winter Tree Pruning

Tree shape is just one part of trimming, check out all these interesting benefits of trimming during winter:

Easily See and Evaluate Your Tree Structure

The leaves have fallen, you’ve raked them, and the kids have played in them. Now that your tree is bare, the structure of your tree is clearly on full display. In this state, a trained arborist can quickly pick out dangerous branches, or diseased wood. While working with its bare bones, professionals can easily get your tree in the best shape possible. This lets us determine whether or not pruning is needed to keep your trees safe and looking their best.

Preserve Your Landscape

During cold Denver winters the ground freezes, which is very helpful if heavy equipment is needed to accomplish tree trimming. The cold hard earth will not be utterly destroyed in the process, and your landscape can stay intact. Overall, that typically saves time and money and produces great results. 

Show Off New Growth in Spring 

Late winter is a great time to prune, contain or rejuvenate overgrown shrubs and trees as they’ll be able to recover quickly in spring with new growth. This will also minimize the amount of time you’ll spend looking at a plant that looks like a bunch of sticks after rejuvenation pruning.

Keeps Trees Happy

Like animals who hibernate, winter is a tree’s time to rest and recharge. Getting your annual trimming and pruning accomplished during the winter will cause less stress for your trees. The timing provides optimal wound closure and time for healing. A stress-free tree is a happy tree!

Prevent Fire Blight With Winter Trimming

Winter tree trimming takes into account the life cycle of harmful bacteria and fungus that spread serious disease. By trimming during dormancy, you can effectively avoid spreading Denver tree diseases that are active and spread easily during the spring and summer growing seasons.

The bacteria, fungi, parasites, and insects that cause and/or spread diseases such as Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, cedar hawthorn rust, and fire blight are either dead or dormant during winter. Therefore, these diseases are less likely to be transmitted by trimming and pruning. 

How Can Winter Trimming Prevent Future Storm Damage? 

Are you dreaming of a winter wonderland or preparing for a snow-in? It is important to anticipate the harsher realities of winter and start to take proactive action. Trees that are damaged, dead or dying are a liability on your property. They are susceptible to breaking or falling under the weight of heavy snow or during a winter storm. This makes them downright dangerous! Expert winter trimming makes them safer and can also rescue weaker trees by getting rid of dead and diseased wood, making room for healthy new growth.

Preparing Your Property For Tree Trimming 

Ready to schedule winter tree trimming? You’ll need to get your property prepared before the tree trimming team arrives. Follow our checklist to protect your assets:

  • Clear the area of any debris or unnecessary objects in the immediate vicinity. 
  • Try to create a clean, smooth surface for work.
  • If your property lacks adequate space (clearance from home) or level ground, share your concerns with our arborists to create a good plan of action for everyone’s safety.
  • Consider any recent storm or flooding. A significant amount of water can make the ground softer than normal and can expose surface-level roots that are easy to trip over and can be a nuisance for ladders. 
  • Take a thorough walk around the base of your tree to make note of any roots or big rocks that may get in the way.
  • Examine your tree’s trunk. If there’s any structural weakness, your tree may be compromised and in need of removal. Make note of any unusual signs or details you notice as you inspect your tree.
  • If a recent storm moved through the area, branches may be broken, roots exposed, or the bark may be displaced. In each of these three cases, your tree may be at heightened risk of contracting a destructive disease.

Tree Trimming Safety

It might be tempting to take a few quick snips and get your tree trimming done yourself, but it’s usually not that easy. Safe tree trimming requires the right know-how and equipment. 

For example, according to the National Agency on Safety Database the three most commonly reported causes of serious tree trimming accidents are electrocution, falls from trees, and being struck by limbs. To keep yourself fully safe, you’d need training on line-clearance trimming and identifying electrical hazards, how to use a harness and trim at higher heights, and how to make strategic cuts to avoid falling limbs.

Necessary safety steps to avoid major hazards include:

  • Wearing a fall-arrest harness attached to a thick, healthy branch when up at higher heights
  • Have a second person ready to help you with bringing branches safely to the ground from higher heights, and remove all branches possible from ground level
  • Avoid electrocution by asking the power company in advance if the lines can be shut off, or if they can ground out the lines 

Even with research and the best-laid plans DIY tree trimming can still be risky. For best results, team up with one of our certified arborists.

Why Should I Hire Certified Arborists to Do My Tree Trimming?

Improver trimming can be harmful to the tree’s health and yours. For many homeowners, following proper technique or safety procedures is just not something they have the background knowledge or training to do. Aside from safety, the other goal of tree trimming is to enhance the overall shape, beauty, and health of the tree.

This is where our expertise comes in. Our team of highly trained arborists knows the exact steps for protecting your trees and property while keeping everyone safe. We have the right equipment and tools to perform tree trimming services across the Denver metro area. We have a trained eye for spotting weak, damaged or diseased wood that needs to be removed and how to create the perfect cuts to encourage new growth. 

Schedule a consultation and collaborate with your certified arborists for high-quality winter tree trimming!