Tree pruning & trimming is an essential step in maintaining the health and vitality of the trees on your property. With adequate pruning and trimming, you have greater control of the overall appearance and structural integrity of your trees so that you can enjoy their beauty and grandeur for many years to come. Property owners, however, often wonder when is the best time of year for pruning and trimming trees in Ontario?  Ensuring that your trees are pruned at the appropriate time prevents potential long-term and irreversible damage.  We will discuss below when to prune trees in Ontario and how to get the most out of tree maintenance.

Benefits of Pruning

Pruning involves the removal of specific sections of a tree to increase safety and improve the aesthetics of a tree. Every single cut made to a tree is significant, as it is essentially a wound, so pruning must be done with great care and justification. There are many benefits to tree pruning and trimming when performed correctly, including:

  • Elimination of weakened or compromised branches/limbs
  • Improved overall tree health
  • Removal of disease or decay
  • Increased flower or fruit production
  • Improve light and air penetration through the tree’s crown/canopy
  • Reduced risk of wind or storm damage
  • Corrected tree structure and integrity
  • Enhanced beauty

Best Time to Prune Trees in Ontario Based on Type

As mentioned before, pruning involves creating an open wound on a tree by making a direct cut to the wood to remove unwanted branches or limbs. Most of the time, light pruning (such as the removal of dead or broken branches) can be successfully completed year-round without any long-lasting negative effects. However, different types of trees benefit from carefully scheduled pruning during specific times of year.


Deciduous trees are trees that grow and shed new leaves each year. Common examples of deciduous trees in Ontario (and specifically the GTA) include Black Walnut, Maple, Aspen, Birch, and Oak. These trees are best cared for when pruning takes places in late fall or winter, once they have completely entered dormancy – which just means the period of ceased growth – and the full frame of the tree is easily visible. Additionally, most insects and disease are inactive throughout the winter months, making it the ideal time to complete tree maintenance without risking transmission.


Evergreen and conifer trees differ from deciduous trees as they retain their foliage year-round. Conifers specifically grow cones and generally feature needle shaped leaves.  The most common evergreens and conifers grown in Southern Ontario are Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Eastern Hemlock, Jack Pine, and Red Cedar. Pruning of conifers and evergreens is rarely required, as they tend to grow in a more stable pattern than deciduous trees. Generally, pruning is done strictly for disease management or safety reasons (removing dead or dangerous branches). However, some evergreen shrubs or hedges are pruned for aesthetic purposes.  Regardless of the reason for pruning, it is best to prune these types of trees in early spring, before the growing season really begins. This maximizes healing and provides the best opportunity for new buds to develop. It is best to avoid pruning evergreen trees in Ontario in early fall, as this is when they are storing up energy to survive through our Canadian winters.

Fruit & Flowering Trees

Fruit and flowering tree pruning is essential to maximize blossom and fruit production. Regular pruning keeps trees healthier and vibrant by removing diseased or otherwise compromised branches and creating a strong, functional structure. Pruning of fruit and flowering trees should be completed during dormancy, which is usually December through to mid-February, to prevent unnecessary damage to the tree tissue. Pruning too early in the fall can cause dehydration, while pruning too late in the spring can stunt bud development. With quality and professional pruning services for fruit and flowering trees, you can expect high-quality and consistent production from your trees. With fruit trees especially, having too many buds and blossoms means too much competition for energy and food. Pruning eliminates some of that rivalry and encourages more consistent fruit growth.


Tree pruning offers a vast array of benefits for your trees and your property, overall. With regular pruning and tree care maintenance your trees will be healthier, safer, and more beautiful – so you can enjoy all they have to offer for years to come. As we have learned, knowing when the best time to prune trees is essential to ensuring you maximize the benefits of pruning and avoid causing unintended damage. The consensus is that the best time of year to have trees trimmed is during the period of dormancy. Having a firm understanding of the needs of the specific tree species on your property will help you to make more fine-tuned decisions regarding your pruning schedules.

Tree care specialists have extensive knowledge on tree health and management. It is always best to consult a certified arborist to ensure your trees are receiving the best, more effective care. Local Arborist has been a trusted tree care provider in Toronto and the GTA for many years. Our team is available anytime to answer your questions and provide solutions for all your tree care needs.