While most tree maintenance activities tend to be done in the warmer months of the year, winter is the ideal time for tree trimming. Here’s why you should trim your trees in the cold:

Benefits of winter tree pruning:

Disease Management

When you cut a branch of a tree, the exposed wood is much like an open wound. There is far less chance of that wound becoming infected in the cold winter months, as pests and disease are typically dormant. Oak trees, for example, require winter tree trimming because they are incredibly susceptible to oak wilt and beetle infestations – which both thrive in warmer weather. The cold of winter is necessary to keep the spread of the destruction at bay.

Winter also eliminates the possibility of disease being spread from tree to tree on pruning equipment, as is often the case in spring and summer.

Promote New Growth

The ultimate goal of tree trimming and pruning is to promote healthy, sustainable growth. Trimming trees in the winter allows for the tree to put all its energy into new growth when it comes out of dormancy, rather than spending energy to heal wounds. Fruit trees that are pruned in the winter month have better yields, also!

Reduce Tree Stress

Since many trees become dormant in the winter months, making a major cut is less of a shock. Trimming and pruning in active growth periods can lead to aggressive growth that is left vulnerable as you re-enter the winter months. This is because the new growth has not had enough time to harden off. Branches and limbs trimmed in the winter experience less disruption to their food supply, as the nutrients are stored in the root system for winter.

Increased Safety

Toronto winters can be harsh. Heavy snow and winter storms can wreak havoc, especially on trees with already weak or damaged limbs. Trimming the dead weight protects your trees (and you) from winter damage. The lack of foliage also makes it easier to assess which branches or limbs may be compromised and makes it safer to access those areas.

On top of all that, the hardened ground makes it easier and safer to use the type of equipment necessary for trimming on particularly tall trees.

It is important to note, however, that trimming should not be done when the temperature is far below freezing, as the wood can become brittle. Consulting a certified arborist is the best way to ensure that your winter tree pruning is done correctly and safely.

Pruning in other Seasons

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some trimming and tree pruning in Toronto is better done in the spring, summer, or early fall.

Some tree issues are not apparent until the growing seasons begins. For example, a tree limb suffering from a disease that affects the leaves would be challenging to identify during dormancy. Deadwood can also be difficult to differentiate from dormant wood when there is no foliage. There may also be other unforeseen issues, such as new tree growth that impacts the landscaping on your residential or commercial property, or maybe even creates a hazard (i.e. full, heavy branches bowing into roadways or walking paths). Trimming is also often done for aesthetic purposes. In those instances, trimming would be best done when in full foliage so the most precise shaping can be completed.


While the cold and snow may not feel overly appealing, your trees undoubtedly benefit from tree pruning in the winter. With winter trimming, your trees will not only look better, but they will be healthier too.

For questions about winter tree pruning, or other tree maintenance services, contact Local Arborist today. Our friendly team of arborists have been providing Toronto and the surrounding area with quality tree care services for many, many years.