Tree Pruning: When should you do it?

Woodies Tree Service Tree Service

A guide to pruning common central Virginia trees.


Some of you may be wondering, “What exactly is tree pruning, and why does it matter to me?” Tree pruning is typically the removal of dead, diseased, or weak branches. The benefits of this process are threefold: it promotes and sustains healthy growth, prevents damage to property or injury to individuals, and improves curb appeal. Removing unnecessary limbs can eradicate infestation or disease, as well as provide more light and airflow for better growth. In some cases, trees do not grow properly, interfering with their environment (e.g., power lines and building clearance), and must be corrected.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) provides more detailed information on the importance of tree pruning at Another great resource is the Virginia Department of Forestry which offers specific information on the process itself.

This is all well and good, but when exactly do you need to prune trees for the best results? This information is hard to find, and you’re not likely to find it laid out all in one place. That’s why we want to help. Proper deadwood removal can be done at any time throughout the year. Nonetheless, not all seasons are created equal. If your trees need more drastic pruning than weak or dead limbs, follow the guidelines below, but take care not to over-prune.

Spring and Summer

Trees are most active in spring and summer, growing, blooming, and producing. Because of this, it is not the best time of year for pruning. For particular trees, pruning just after bloom can be done for corrective purposes; for instance, if some branches are not productive, you may want to remove them.


We highly recommend pruning not be done during the fall. The removal of branches creates wounds that must naturally close, but despite the term “wound,” they do not actually cause harm to the tree. Throughout the Fall, growth is slowing down, which leads to slow wound recovery. Furthermore, environmental conditions enable the rapid growth and spread of fungi, counteractive to the purpose of pruning to slow tree decay in the first place.


Winter is, in fact, the best time to prune your trees. During this season, trees are dormant, providing you with several advantages. First, the lack of growth means sap loss through wounds is decreased drastically. Moreover, insects and fungi are not as active, so stress to the tree and other risks are minimal.

While these are general guidelines for when to prune, each type of tree has unique needs. Follow the pruning calendar below for common trees in central Virginia.

While these are simply the optimal times for pruning trees, in most cases, pruning can be done throughout the year on healthy specimens. Ultimately, the proper care of your trees is necessary for their continued health, as well as for your safety and to keep your property looking beautiful.

For an expert opinion on your trees’ health and pruning needs, contact us today.