by Christy Heitger-Ewing

As temperatures drop and winter frost covers the ground, we tend to not spend as much time outdoors. We certainly aren’t puttering around the yard the way we were in the spring and summer months now that the grass has stopped growing, the leaves have dropped from their branches, and any fragrant bloom that once decorated a flower has long since fallen to the ground. If we venture out now, it’s usually to hang holiday lights and decorations. But landscape experts will tell you that while you’re out in the yard, it’s wise to spend a bit of time pruning your trees and shrubs in order to maximize growth in the upcoming season.

According to Dan Weingart, owner of GreenImage Landscape & Design, pruning during the winter months is the perfect time to maintain or reduce plant size as it prevents overgrowth and rejuvenates them to produce more vigorous foliage, flower, and fruit growth in the spring. In fact, pruning trees and shrubs during the winter is beneficial for several reasons. First, you can better see what needs to be removed since no foliage is obstructing your view.

“With the leaves gone, you can really get a good look at the structure of the trees and shrubs in your yard, and that closer look could save the plant itself,” says Weingart. “Dead structures need to be removed for the health of the tree, but it’s not always easy to see those when they’re covered in leaves.”

This is also the perfect time to remove weak, vulnerable branches so that trees have a better chance at surviving severe weather in the form of snow, sleet, and intense wind.

A clearer view means structural pruning and cutting is much easier. Speaking of cutting, we must remember that a pruned tree is a wounded tree that needs to heal; healing hastens in the winter when they are dormant.

“The cold helps the tree close the cuts faster before warm weather sets in,” says Weingart. “Think of it as growth stimulation, and it ultimately means a healthier, stronger plant throughout the season.”

We’ve all seen those overgrown plants and shrubs that have overtaken a space and may even obstruct a window or sidewalk; that frustrating issue can be averted simply by winter pruning.

Pruning in winter is also better for disease control because fresh cuts during the summertime are more vulnerable to insects and disease whereas insect activity is greatly diminished in cold weather. Weingart notes that Dutch elm disease and other types of tree and shrub problems spread fast as temperatures warm up and through the growing season.

“During the winter, though, disease-causing bacteria, fungus, or insects are typically dead or dormant,” he says. “Because of that, you’re less likely to transmit diseases from plant to plant as you prune.”

’Tis the season of giving, so give your trees and shrubs some love this winter by scheduling a pruning session with GreenImage Landscape & Design at