August 20, 2018 0

Sheath Your Shears till After the Snow Flies

Fall is a hard season to predict along Colorado’s Front Range. The earliest freeze in Denver was on September 8, 1962, but just 18 years earlier it didn’t come till November 15. In 1961 it snowed on Labor Day! The National Weather Service pegs October 7 as the average first freeze date, but if you’ve lived in Colorado for any length of time, you know there’s nothing “average” about the weather here. Even the experts can only nail down the first frost to 60-day window.

There’s Still Three Weeks of Summer After Labor Day

While Labor Day is called the unofficial end of summer, meteorologically that’s not true even in Colorado. Yes, the kids are back in school and the aspens have started to turn, but don’t think that’s a reason to take the long weekend to start cutting back your trees, shrubs, and other perennials.

Pruning stimulates new growth and those tender young stalks are more vulnerable to disease, and pests and frost damage when the cold weather comes. Many popular trees also produce sap well into fall and pruning them then not only risks a sticky mess, it also can attract pests and diseases. Others, like maples, elms, and birches, ooze sap well into early spring, so it’s best to wait for warmer weather to prune them.

Your Plants Will Tell You When It’s Time for a Trim

If you have weak, dead, or hazardous branches, the time to trim them is now. Not only are they unattractive, they present a danger to both the plant and structures, power lines, people and other objects under or near them. That’s true in all seasons, from winter snow loads to high winds and overburdened branches in the summer.

But for your tree’s health and beauty, the time to prune is when the weather precludes the likelihood of new growth, pests, and diseases. For most trees and shrubs, that’s well into winter or even early spring after the leaves have dropped. Others do best when pruned in the summer. But fall should be reserved for preventive measures that shouldn’t be put off.

Know the Best Time to Prune Your Trees

Do a little research to learn the best times and practices for pruning your particular trees and shrubs. There’s plenty of information on the internet. When in doubt, wait until after the plant flowers. But relax and enjoy your Labor Day holiday with the knowledge that your plants will appreciate the reprieve.


Donovan Arborists can help you set a pruning and maintenance schedule to keep your trees and shrubs healthy while adding beauty and value to your landscape. We offer planting and landscape management services for homeowners and property managers throughout the Denver area.

We’re happy to give free estimates for any services you may need. Use our convenient online form or call us at 303-623-TREE to speak personally with a certified arborist.

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