Spring Pruning for Your Trees and Shrubs

As our plants start to breathe life again, is it OK to prune them? What can you prune? What shouldn't be trimmed right now? We've got the answers right here!

Blooms! Buds! Our trees and shrubs are following normal development for the season right now. As our plants start to breathe life again, is it OK to prune them?

What Spring Pruning can Address

ISA Certified Arborist and Seattle Tree Care project manager Clif Edwards says now is generally a good time to prune if:

  • You need to maintain a tree’s current size
  • You need branch clearance to roofs, wires, and buildings
  • You want to increase light to a garden
  • You hope to diminish fungal issues

How to Maintain a Tree’s Current Size

Spring pruning will curb some of the woody plant’s growth potential, says Clif. So if you have a tree that wasn’t planted in the right place and you need to control its size—before more dire measures of removal are necessary—now is a good time to consider pruning.

Pairing spring pruning with a growth regulator is another option this time of year to help your trees keep their shape longer. Applying a growth regulator right as the tree goes from bud to bloom means the plant will uptake the regulator at the most effective time.

Rather than inhibit the plant, growth regulator helps redirect resources from canopy growth to other places, such as fibrous root production and defense chemicals that make the tree more resistant to common stresses it sees in an urban environment.

Learn more about urban tree stress >>

What’s Best to Prune Now?

It’s an ideal time to prune hydrangeas, Clif advises, because they are putting off a ton of vigorous growth right now.

If you need any hedging done, pruning now will dampen that growth potential, and you’ll see it keep its form a bit longer. Consider adding in a growth regulator for even more impact.

And, if you want to see vibrant new shoot growth, prune plants that flowered in winter: azaras, camellias, viburnums, and coppicing dogwoods.

What About Dormancy Pruning?

While it’s typical to prune cherries and other drupe trees while they’re dormant, Clif says, it doesn’t hurt them to prune as they bud.

“We look at each individual tree for pruning,” he adds, “and assess to make sure pruning is the right choice at this present moment for this specific tree.”

Curious to know what impacts you’ll see if you prune your trees and shrubs today? Call us for a free landscape maintenance assessment and estimate from one of ISA Certified Arborists.

Kelsey Gruenwoldt

Kelsey is the owner and CEO of Seattle Tree Care, a Certified Arborist, and founder of the Seattle Arborist Association. As a fourth-generation Seattle native, she has a great appreciation for this beautiful region and is dedicated to making sure our area's trees receive the best care possible. + Learn more about Kelsey

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