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Landscaping And Snow Removal Blog

What Are the Benefits of Dormant Pruning?

Posted by Jerry Schill on Feb 29, 2024 8:23:00 AM
Jerry Schill
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When it’s your job to ensure your commercial property is healthy, safe, and visually appealing, you know that landscape maintenance isn’t only done during the warm weather months. There are many commercial landscape maintenance services — dormant pruning being one — you can be doing during the offseason so when the warm weather does arrive, your property is ready to be enjoyed by its residents and/or consumers. 

Winter is the ideal time to perform dormant pruning on trees and shrubs for three main reasons:

  1. It’s easier to identify dead and diseased branches when plants aren’t teeming with foliage.
  2. Corrective pruning will not damage new growth while plants are in “sleep mode” for the cold season.
  3. Taking advantage of slower times at landscaping companies can yield discounts on services — plus you’re taking care of this maintenance need in the offseason when outdoor areas are not in use.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what dormant pruning is, the differences between dormant and restorative pruning, and the dormant pruning benefits you’ll reap come spring.

Dormant Pruning During Winter

What Is Dormant Pruning?

As the name implies, you do this type of pruning only when plants are dormant — after summer growth stops and before new growth appears in spring. The ideal window of time for dormant pruning is November through the end of March, though this schedule is dictated by the weather.  

Dormant pruning involves “corrective action” — really getting into the tree or shrub canopy and hard pruning branches to:

  • Remove diseased, dying, or dead branches
  • Reshape an overgrown plant so it can be salvaged rather than replaced
  • Restore the health of a suffering tree or shrub

During the growing season, maintenance pruning is performed to maintain the shape of trees and shrubs and to keep plants within their footprints in a landscape bed. More serious pruning happens once plants go dormant.

Dormant Pruning vs. Restorative Pruning — What’s the Difference?

Simply put, dormant pruning is trimming plants while they are not actively growing. Dormant pruning can involve light shaping or simply removing branches that are unhealthy.

Meanwhile, restorative pruning involves aggressively cutting back plants and removing approximately one-third of old wood. Restorative pruning is more visually obvious.

Both dormant and restorative pruning take place during late fall and winter, will preserve plant health, and ensure the safety of your property.

Dormant Pruning Benefits

If done correctly and at the proper time of year, dormant pruning promotes plant health. Here are the dormant pruning benefits that you’ll see:

  • Healthy growth: If a shrub has branches that are diseased, or there is driftwood within the plant’s canopy, that shrub is expending energy on branches that just aren’t going to make a comeback. As a result, the healthy branches can suffer. Corrective dormant pruning removes those unhealthy branches so the plant can rejuvenate. Also, a lack of pruning can restrict airflow to a plant and block sunlight. Plants need air and sun to grow effectively.
  • Improved aesthetics: Flowers bloom more fully on new wood, so both dormant and restorative pruning will reinvigorate leaf and flower quality. Also, “witch broom growth” is the natural result of power-shearing shrubs during the growing season. This is when the interior of shrubs is mostly bare, with foliage growth focused on branch ends (like a broom).
  • A safer property: An overgrown shrub might be overtaking a landscape bed or blocking a sightline, causing a potential pedestrian safety hazard. Plants may block exit signs or window views. Trees and shrubs can encroach on walkways. And when plants grow too close to buildings, they can introduce pest problems and other structural concerns.
    Storm protection: Dormant pruning helps plants endure severe winter weather.
  • Right-sized plants: Plants can outgrow landscaping beds as they mature, especially when plants are packed into tight spaces. Sometimes, plants are not appropriately spaced in the first place. Or, pruning is neglected and shrubs can lose their natural shape. Restorative pruning right-sizes plants and improves the appearance of landscape beds.

Schedule Dormant Pruning During Winter — Reap the Rewards in Spring

Winter is an ideal time for dormant pruning because plants are not stressed (growing requires a lot of energy). Also, during winter, major pruning efforts are not as noticeable to those who live, work, and play on your commercial property.

If you severely pruned a large hydrangea or rose bush in the middle of the summer, people would wonder, “What happened to that shrub?” There’s a good chance they won’t notice dormant pruning, since deciduous trees and shrubs have lost their leaves and people are less actively using outdoor spaces on your property.

For property owners who want to get a jump on spring, dormant pruning during winter in Ohio sets trees and shrubs up for healthy, new growth — and it’s a commercial landscape maintenance activity you can take care of while other tasks are on hold until warmer weather arrives.

Let’s talk more about dormant pruning for your landscape.  fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

Landscaping Checklist: Winter in Ohio


Topics: Landscape Maintenance

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