These are two commonly asked question at Caan’s when we start to feel the crisp breeze of fall in the air. First off, there are a few different reasons for pruning your tree or shrub and pruning at the proper time can be crucial.pruning

Why prune your trees or shrubs?

One major reason is to improve your plants overall health by removing dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals or storms. You may also prune to remove branches that rub together, but avoid topping trees which can cause several health and aesthetic issues. You may also prune to improve the tree or shrubs appearance. This can encourage flower and fruit development as well as maintain a denser shape. Controlling plant size and proportion is another reason to prune your tree or shrub. It is also necessary to prune dead or weak trees to protect people and property. Prune out weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, and sidewalks – anyplace falling limbs could injure people or damage property. Occasionally you may need to eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals, and overhead wires. However, do not attempt to prune near electrical and utility wires. Contact utility companies or city maintenance workers to handle this type of plant maintenance.

When is the best time to prune your tree or shrub?

The late dormant season is best for most pruning. Pruning in late winter, just before spring growth starts, exposes fresh wounds for only a short length of time before new growth begins the wound sealing process. However, certain trees such as oaks have a specific pruning time. To avoid oak wilt disease DO NOT prune oaks during April, May, or June. Prune apple trees, including flowering crabapples, mountain ash, hawthorns and cotoneasters in late winter (February-early April). Autumn or early winter pruning is more likely to result in drying and die-back at pruning sites. Some trees have free-flowing sap that “bleeds” after late winter or early spring pruning. To prevent bleeding, you could prune the following trees after their leaves are fully expanded in late spring or early summer:

All maples, including box elder
Butternut and walnut
Birch and its relatives, ironwood and blue beech

Trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming these include:

Clove currant
Flowering plum
or cherry

Shrubs grown primarily for their foliage rather than showy flowers should be pruned in spring, before growth begins:

Alpine currant
Burning bush
Purpleleaf sandcherry

Shrubs that bloom on new growth may be pruned in spring before growth begins. Plants with somewhat hardy stems such as clematis and shrub roses should be pruned back to live wood. Hardier shrubs such as spireas and snowball hydrangeas should be pruned to the first pair of buds above the ground.

When to prune hedges.

Hedges need to be pruned often. Once the hedge reaches the desired height, prune new growth back whenever it grows another 6 to 8 inches. Prune to within 2 inches of the last pruning. Hedges may be pruned twice a year, in spring and again in mid-summer, to keep them dense and attractive. Arborvitae, junipers, yews, and hemlocks grow continuously throughout the growing season. They can be pruned any time through the middle of summer. These plants will tolerate heavy shearing,

Tools for pruning.

  • Pruning Shears:Cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter
  • Lopping shears: similar to pruning shears, but their long handles provide greater leverage needed to cut branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
  • Hedge shears: Meant only for pruning hedges
  • Hand saws: For cutting branches over 1 inch in diameter. Many types of hand saws are available.
  • Pole saws: allow for extended reach with a long handle.

We have many of these tools available at Caan’s to assit you in your pruning needs!


“A weed is but an unloved flower.”

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox