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Winter pruning evergreens?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Woodland, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 207

    Any thoughts on pruning needled evergreens in winter? I've always told customers the best time to prune evergreens is spring to mid summer to avoid spurring new growth that would likely be injured by cold temps in the winter if not given the opportunity to harden off. I hadn't really thought about what might happen if pruned during the winter, though.

    I got a call from one of my customers the other day that wants to top a row of "pines" ('cause they have needles, they must be pines! but if I remember correctly they are spruce or possibly balsams). I figured since I'm so busy right now, with all the snow we've been getting in the NE and all, I could certainly tackle this project with him now, but not at the expense of the trees health.
  2. grassman2001

    grassman2001 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 68

    They should already be dormant, so trimming now won't push out new growth. Just make sure the branches are not frozen. I'm not sure I would top pines unless I absolutly had to.
  3. PowersTree

    PowersTree LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Topping trees is bad..........dont do it!!
  4. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Evergreens do not go dormant, that's why they stay evergreen. They are continually growing and taking in water and nutrients, although very slowly in the cold weather months. With the warm spells we have been having in the northeast, pruning could spur some unexpected growth that may easily be damaged if winter does actually arrive this season.

    As you mentioned, determine what plant you actually have before attempting any type of pruning, especially if you intend on shearing with gas powered tools. Being as far up in New england as you are, it looks like you have your hands full with winter and this task would be better suited to a spring cleanup or pruning schedule.

  5. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,072

    Do not top any tree! That goes double for evergreen trees.

    As has been stated evergreens are not dormant and in fact the sap will soon be flowing more than at any other time of year. You will be sorry that you started cutting into evergreens when you end up with sap all over you and your equipment. When you cut into old growth (any wood over a year old) you open the tree up to invasion of disease, followed by insects, then larger and larger vermin.

    Prune only new growth from evergreens and not after September.

    Why does the customer want them topped?

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