Why You Shouldn’t Prune in the Fall

Fall weather makes people crave cleaning up their landscapes. But before you start hacking at your shrubs, heed our general advice: DON’T PRUNE ANYTHING DURING THE FALL. Nothing. Put your pruners away for another month or two and let plants go completely dormant. Why??

  • Pruning encourages new growth just when the plant is trying to go dormant. New growth won’t have time to harden off before freezing temperatures come along.

  • When you prune in the fall wounds won’t heal as quickly, leaving the plant more susceptible to fungal diseases.

  • Waiting until after all the leaves have fallen allows you to see the tree/shrubs structure better.

You can prune trees and shrubs after all the leaves have dropped, the plant is dormant, and winter has truly settled in. For most trees, major pruning should be done late winter-early spring when the wound will heal faster. One exception to this regards dead, diseased or damaged wood. Prune any branches that are in any of these states as soon as possible, and anything that is hazardous to you or your home. In the meantime, focus your attention on raking, mulching, amending the soil and planting cover crops!