As the weather turns cooler, trees begin to grow dormant. This period is characterized by a slowing of food production and the browning and dropping of leaves. When the leaves begin to fall, it is the perfect time to trim your trees! Even trees that keep their leaves in the winter (live oaks, cedars, pines, etc.) do enter a dormant period that is best for trimming.
Why Are Fall and Winter the Best Times to Trim Trees?
Throughout the summer, trees make food through photosynthesis and store this energy in the form of sugars in the branches, trunks, and roots. In the late winter and early spring, trees begin using their stored energy to grow new branches and leaves. In the fall and winter, when North Texas trees are dormant, their energy stores can be used to recover from the wounds caused by tree pruning.
The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting another frigid winter for early 2022. While we hope for a reprieve, even a mild winter can bring with it increased storm activity. Snow, sleet, ice, and freezing rain all contribute to increased weight on tree limbs and can sometimes push them to the breaking point — literally!
During the winter there is less stress in general to trees in our area. Decreased insect activity during the cooler months leads to less damage to trees. This is also the same for fungal and bacterial pests, which are less active and less likely to infect a tree this time of year. In North Texas especially, our generally mild winters are a welcome break from the intense (and possibly damaging) heat of summer for trees and people as well!
Why Is Fall Better Than Summer for Trimming Trees?
Trees, like people, are stressed in the summer due to heat and lack of water. When trees are heat-stressed, they are more likely to be negatively affected by additional stressors like diseases, insects, and pruning. Trimming the trees during the fall and winter reduces environmental stressors and gives trees time to heal trimming wounds, helping prevent infestation, rot, and dieback.
Why Should I Trim My Trees Before Winter Storms?
In February 2021, we had historic freezing temperatures and snowfall, and a similar freeze is predicted for Winter 2021-2022. Removing dead and broken branches reduces the chance of debris falling from your trees and causing damage. Making sure that trees are now too weighty on the ends of branches or stressed at weak joints can help prevent breakage. Having an ISA Certified Arborist inspect your trees can help you know about potential root issues or other stability problems that may cause total failure. While no one can be absolutely certain about what a season will bring, being a proactive and responsible tree owner can protect you and your property.
How Can You Tell If a Branch Is Dead Or Dying in the Fall and Winter?
Even if a tree does not have leaves, there are many ways to identify dead or dying sections. Dead and dying branches will quickly start to lose bark, showing smooth wood underneath. Insects and rot are attracted to dead wood, and can be identified by the presence of discoloration or holes underneath falling bark. Fungus activity, especially visible fungal conks (mushrooms) on limbs or the trunk of a tree means that there is dead wood in that area. If a tree or branch is visibly hollow, it has lost interior support wood, and could break at any time.
At Texas Tree Surgeons, we love trees and we love our community! While losing limbs is part of a tree’s natural life cycle, trees in our urban forest can pose a serious hazard to people and property when their branches fall. The extreme weather events we have had in the past few years have taken a great toll on our North Texas trees, but with a little preparation we can help preserve the trees we have. Contact us today to have an arborist out to evaluate your trees and prepare them for winter weather!
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