What You Need to Know About Winter Pruning in Maine (& How to Prune Trees & Shrubs in the Winter)

Pruning trees & shrubs in Maine

Here in Maine, the long winters may make us forget that there are beautiful plants and trees just waiting to emerge under a thick blanket of snow. Come spring, our landscapes will reawaken and begin to grow again. 

So how can we ensure our trees and shrubs are set up to be as healthy and vibrant as possible once the snow melts? Pruning during the winter.

Why is winter a good time to prune?

It may come as a surprise that winter is a great time to prune shrubs and trees (especially deciduous) in the Northeast. 

Pruning prior to spring thaw — especially for plants or trees that aren’t flowering in the spring — means you won’t be removing any potential blooms, as well as removing unnecessary limbs while the shrub or tree is still dormant.e

Plus, without leaves, you’ll be able to better visualize the tree or shrub’s structure for more efficient pruning.

Tips for Winter Pruning

If you decide to DIY your winter pruning, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.

  • Pay attention in fall.

    It’s difficult to see what needs to be pruned in the midst of winter. Before the snow falls, be sure to pay attention to which plants need the most pruning — and where they need to be pruned.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    Once the spring thaw happens, it’ll be too late to prune. It’s important to prune at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to the thaw.
  • Never attempt larger jobs on your own.

    While minor trims of twigs and sprouts can be perfectly safe for the DIYer, leave the large, heavy branches for the professionals to remove.

How to Prune this Winter

Now that you have the basic winter pruning rules down, how do you go about it?

Remove dead and damaged first. As you can probably guess, removing any falling limbs, or dead or diseased parts of your plants is your first step. 

Remove in sections. After anything dead, diseased, or damaged has been removed, look to branches or limbs that are overgrowing, growing in the wrong direction, cross-branching or rubbing, or blocking areas in your garden they shouldn't be.

Consider if you’re trying to thin out the plants or trim them back to a certain shape. Also, try to work in sections — rather than randomly — so you can see your progress.

Focus on flower growth. If you’re pruning back flowering shrubs, think about the areas you’d prefer they flower and prune accordingly. Pay special attention to the height of your shrubs.

Remove tiny branches. Finally, take a step back and look at any small twigs that you may have missed.

Winter pruning doesn’t have to be scary or confusing. Try pruning back your shrubs and trees this winter to see them emerge in all their splendor next spring!

Need some help with winter pruning? We’re here for you. For help in the greater Buxton, Maine area with pruning your trees and shrubs, contact us at Prime Cut Landscaping & Lawn Care today!

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