Can You Do Tree Work in Winter?

Even in Massachusetts, winter is a great time for tree work! Learn the many benefits of winter tree work for both you and your trees – and the things you should avoid.

As you look at your winter landscape, you may already be making a mental to-do list of things to do in your yard when spring finally arrives in Massachusetts. Maybe you want to plant some new shrubs, create a vegetable garden, or hang some colorful planters.

If one of the tasks you’re waiting to do is to have your trees pruned or removed, we have good news! You don’t have to wait until warmer weather to hire a professional tree service. In fact, there are many reasons to get that tree work done during the winter months, with benefits for both you and your trees.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • some benefits of winter tree work,
  • what tree work can be done any time of year,
  • what you shouldn’t do in winter, and
  • some helpful information about when to prune your trees.
American Climbers removing a tree during the winter in Framingham

American Climbers removing a tree during the winter in Framingham

Think Tree Work Can Only Be Done In Spring or Summer?

Most people only think about tree pruning, removal, inspections, and other arboricultural work during the growing season. (Unless a winter storm damages their trees!) Why is that?

When the snow melts and temperatures finally rise in spring, people are naturally drawn outdoors. They prepare their garden for seeds or planting. They see plants for sale in the garden centers. As homeowners look around their yard, they start to see issues in their trees. Maybe a branch isn’t growing any new leaves, or it’s clear that a tree that appeared dormant is actually dead.

Summer is typically filled with more outdoor activity when the weather is generally pleasant and everything is in bloom. During the extended time spent outdoors, you’re more likely to notice any issues with your trees or shrubs.

That’s why we get more calls for tree service in spring and summer. And it’s a good time to do tree work. For example, during the growing season we’re better able to:

    • see where leaves are blocking views, impeding walkways, or hitting roofs
    • prune for more sunlight or air circulation
    • spot dead or dying sections of a tree

See When to Prune Trees in Massachusetts

But spring and summer aren’t the only time of year to have tree work done. In fact, there are many benefits to having tree work completed during the winter months.

Benefits of Winter Tree Work

Leafless trees in winter being removed by American Climbers tree service

The lack of leaves on deciduous trees during the winter months makes any issues easier to spot.

While there’s nothing wrong with hiring tree service professionals in the spring or summer (or even fall), there are some jobs that are best left until winter. For example, it’s best to prune fruit trees in late winter if you want more fruit next year.

Beyond that, doing tree work in winter has a number of benefits – for you and for your trees.

It’s Easier to See the Tree’s Structure

While most people only notice dead branches during the growing season (relying on the lack of leaves as a tell-tale sign), tree care professionals are trained to spot a dead branch or limb even in the middle of winter. In fact, the lack of leaves on deciduous trees can actually help us, as we can see the branches and limbs without the cover of foliage. This allows us to not only spot any dead or dying branches, but also any crossing branches or structural issues that can be resolved by professional pruning.

It’s also helpful with tree removals. The lack of leaves means less cleanup and can allow our climbers and equipment to more easily access the tree.

Frozen Ground Minimizes Damage

It’s impossible to avoid all damage to the ground during a large tree pruning or removal job (although we always do our best!). But when the ground is frozen, our equipment and any branches or logs that hit the ground won’t make nearly as much of an impact. Plus, heavy equipment can often be used to access areas where the soft ground wouldn’t let us go during spring or summer.

Pests and Diseases are Dormant

Most tree pests and diseases are dormant during the winter months, so they won’t have an opportunity to harm the tree by entering through any pruning cuts. Some trees, such as elms, should not be pruned during warmer weather (unless absolutely necessary) because of the threat of spreading Dutch elm disease.

Winter Pruning Gives Trees Time to “Heal”

Just as our bodies create a scab over a wound to help it heal, trees need time to seal off pruning cuts. Pruning in winter gives the tree a longer time to heal before warmer temperatures arrive and new growth appears. Allowing the pruning cut time to heal also prevents pests or disease from entering the open wounds.

Removing damaged limbs or trees prevents winter storm damage

Weak, broken, or dead branches are much more likely to fall when covered with a heavy layer of snow or ice. Similarly, a dead tree may cause more issues with falling branches (or the entire tree falling) during winter storms.

Removing the dead, dying, or dangerous branches in winter can prevent some winter damage. Plus, a winter tree removal can bring peace of mind the next time a winter storm blows through our area.

Learn about what to do about snow or ice damage

Rich Yurewicz, owner of American Climbers, taking a selfie from the top of a tall tree

Rich enjoying the view while the American Climbers team does some winter tree work.

Not All Trees Should be Pruned in Winter

While winter is generally a good time to prune, there are some trees that do better if they are NOT pruned in winter. Spring-flowering trees, for instance, should not be pruned except to remove dangerous or broken sections. Winter pruning will remove all the flower buds that developed in fall, meaning there’ll be no flowers in spring. Instead, prune early spring flowering trees and shrubs right after they finish flowering.

Winter Tree Work Depends on Weather Conditions

Intense cold, high winds, blowing snow, and ice-covered trees mean that we hit “pause” on winter tree work. Not only is it dangerous for our crews, but pruning trees in extremely cold weather can damage tree tissue and cause lasting damage. We won’t work on trees during dangerous weather conditions, so you don’t have to worry that we will be putting your safety or your property at risk.

Need a Hand With Winter Tree Work?

If you know that your trees need to be pruned or removed, don’t wait to contact American Climbers for your personalized estimate. If you’re not sure if pruning would benefit your trees, we can come to your property and advise you.

Either way, know that you don’t have to wait for the weather to warm to check “professional tree care” off your yard care to-do list!

Request Winter Tree Work

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