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Which Trees Should Be Pruned During The Winter Season?

Which Trees Should Be Pruned During The Winter Season?

Did you know that some trees should only be pruned during the winter? Fruit trees and other trees in Rochester, New York benefit from winter pruning. We have already discussed the benefits of pruning trees in winter, but in this article, we will cover which trees to prune during the winter and the advantages of winter or dormant pruning.


Winter is a great time for pruning trees, even though it may seem surprising. Winter tree pruning is advantageous for several reasons:

  • Trees produce less sap when pruned in the winter.
  • Tree pruning wounds are less likely to be infected by pests and diseases during the winter months.
  • Due to the absence of leaves, the tree’s structure is more visible.
  • Winter pruning causes less stress to trees.
  • And there are other benefits too!


While most trees are grown for their benefits like providing shade, beautiful flowers, wind breakers or privacy, fruit trees are specially grown for their fruit. It is important to prune fruit trees when they are dormant (before new buds form) to ensure proper fruit production. Otherwise, stunted or no fruit growth may occur.

When fruit trees are dormant, pruning them can maximize fruit production in several ways. During this period, dead branches, damaged areas, and diseased wood can be removed easily as the tree’s structure is more visible and many pests and diseases are less active. This is also a great time to ensure the tree has a strong structure by maintaining the central leader and scaffold branches while removing other branches. By doing this, more fruit can grow without breaking the branches. Please note that pruning while dormant is beneficial for all kinds of trees, not just fruit trees.

During winter, it’s important to remove the smaller and weaker branches on fruit trees that are called water sprouts. This will help the tree conserve its energy for producing stronger branches. Additionally, water sprouts can block the light and air from reaching the fruit, which can negatively impact its growth and ripening.

To help fruit ripen, it is necessary for light to reach it. Therefore, pruning a dormant fruit tree will create space in the tree canopy, allowing more light to penetrate. Additionally, by pruning correctly, more air can flow through the canopy, which helps to prevent certain types of fungal problems.


Tree professionals can prune most trees, except for spring-flowering trees, during the winter months. However, winter is the only appropriate time to prune certain types of trees.

Elm Trees

To prevent the spread of Dutch elm disease, it is best to avoid pruning elm trees from April through August when pests are more active. Instead, it is recommended to have your elm trees professionally pruned during their dormant period, from fall to late winter. Dutch elm disease has been affecting elms in Rochester, New York since the 1930s, with various types of bark beetles being responsible for the ongoing damage.

Oak Trees

To prevent oak wilt, it is best to prune oak trees during winter while they are dormant. This allows enough time for pruning cuts to heal before the beetles become active in early spring. It’s important to note that all 17 species of oak trees in Rochester, New York are vulnerable to oak wilt. Additionally, cutting oaks can emit a scent that attracts pests, which is another reason to prune oak trees during periods when beetle activity is lower.

Damaged Trees Can be Pruned

You can go ahead and prune out the damaged branches from your trees caused by winter weather without waiting for the weather to warm up.

High winds, heavy snow, or destructive ice storms can cause damage to trees. In case of torn or broken branches with jagged stubs, corrective pruning might be necessary. It is advisable to fix such tree wounds with proper pruning cuts before the spring bud break.

Conifer Trees Can be Pruned

Evergreen trees, also known as conifer trees, require less frequent pruning than deciduous trees. However, when it comes to pruning, it is best to do so in winter for most evergreen trees except for pine trees, which should be pruned in spring.

You can prune coniferous trees like spruce and fir during winter before the new growth in spring.


Tree Service Rochester NY’s professionals have expertise on the optimal time for tree pruning, effective tree pest and disease management, appropriate pruning techniques, and other related matters, such as winter tree cracks.

Tree Service Rochester NY offers year-round tree care services in and around Rochester, New York. You can schedule winter or dormant tree pruning by getting in touch with us today.

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