Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

Best Time to Prune 5 Common Trees in Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber in Tree Care

Take a look around your neighborhood and you will see that there are different times of the year when people seem to be trimming their trees. Do you just assume that one of them is right and the rest of them are wrong or have you done your research and try to find when is the best time to actually prune different types of trees? Either way, it’s difficult to really determine when to prune a tree, especially if you don’t work with trees regularly.

For some trees, the fall is better because the trees are easier to prune when they are brittle and a little dry. For others, spring is better because you can see the shape and understand where the cuts need to be made. Even so, some are better to prune right before they flower and can even help them flower more and brighter

So when should you prune the trees in your yard there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for every yard. However, let’s take a look at the most common trees in Vancouver and see when you should prune them:

5. Douglas Fir: Early Spring, If Necessary

  • Prune to Shape the Tree
  • Make Small, Deliberate Cuts
  • Use Special Tools for Better Shaping

When most people think about pruning a Douglas Fir Tree, they tend to think about cutting a Christmas tree. However, that is the exact opposite of what you should do with a live, growing Douglas Fir.

Like most other conifers, you shouldn’t actually trim your Douglas fir all that often. You should instead remove any diseased or pest infested branches. Make sure that you clean up promptly and eliminate all of the debris from the trimming or you can spread the disease or bugs back into your tree in some cases you may even have to wear protective clothing

Those who do choose to prune their Douglas Fir Trees do so because they want to control how “bushy” the tree can get. To do this, you’ll make smaller, precise cuts that eliminate certain portions of the tree.

According to The Spruce, “Don’t try to prune once the needles have opened fully or you may end up with a misshapen plant, since most evergreens cannot replace their growing tips.”

4. Japanese Red Pine: Winter

  • These Trees Are Tougher Than You Believe
  • Wait Until You’ve Had Consistent Cold Weather
  • Small Trims Can Be Made At Any Time

Many people underestimate the Japanese Red Pine. These trees are much hardier than people give them credit for, which means they can (and should) tolerate quite a bit of pruning. Most people prune in the winter months because the tree is completely dormant and this is the best time to do it – you won’t run the risk of introducing pests or infection into the tree.

Still, if there are problem areas, you can prune this tree at any time of the year. When pruning, make decisive trims that impact your tree. Taking too many small picks at your tree can be bad for it and cause distress.

Don’t be surprised if you remove quite a bit of wood from your tree – sometimes it needs it.

According to Fine Gardening, “Japanese maples less than 15 years old are prone to put on new growth that looks like a buggy whip: unattractively skinny with no side branches,” but you shouldn’t prune those off – it will make the tree look worse.

3. English Laurel: Late Spring or Early Summer

  • Prune for Shape or for Health
  • Pruning Can Help Reduce “Skinny” Growth
  • Trim or Prune Only Once Per Year

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” is a great way to explain pruning the English Laurel Tree. This isn’t the type of tree (or hedge as many people call it) that you have to go into every single month and trim and prune to make it look good. In fact, doing so we’ll just encourage it to continue struggling and look worse than it did before.

The best time to prune your English Laurel is at the end of the spring or the beginning of the summer. You want to ensure that before ou prune, you have given it enough water and it is healthy enough to withstand the damage you do when pruning. Don’t wait until it is too late into the summer or any drought or lack of water can make it harder to prune successfully.

According to Plant Amnesty, it is a good idea to prune all of your English Laurel trees at the same time.

2. Empress Tree: Winter (After a Few Years)

  • Let Settle For A Few Years Before Pruning
  • Keep Tallest Branches
  • Cut From Bottom Up

If you don’t prune your Empress Trees, you will end up with a bush or a shrub instead of an actual tree. Many people buy Empress trees because they think they are beautiful and that they will make a great asset to their yards. Unfortunately, they later pull out the shrub or tree before they even give it a chance because they haven’t pruned it properly.

One thing has to be aware of is that this tree has to settle for a few years. You have to allow the frost to hit the tree and for it to naturally die back, only then can you prune it. Most people suggest waiting at least five years, according to Emily Compost.

Make sure you watch your tree and document its growth so that you can know when it is getting out of hand. Of course, in the first few years it will be easy to prune your tree. Still, you have to wait. Don’t wait too long or it will take a lot of time and there is more risk, including large sections of the tree dying or the tree getting weighed down.

1. Weeping Willow

  • Pruning is Better When Young
  • Only Prune As Needed
  • Prune Strong Branches, Not Thin Ones

Pruning a Weeping Willow actually has more to do with the training it. If you don’t train a Willow Tree, it can grow out of control. Training involves making specific cuts and prunes that will teach it where to go and how to grow. According to Home Guides, this is the most important thing you can do for your Weeping Willow Tree.

When pruning, you have to understand about leading branches. This means you have to understand the different weights and stressors that are put on the branches. One leader should emergy by itself, but it can be difficult to find the right one.

If you aren’t sure, just start by removing all of the dead and decaying tree parts. Focus on the base if you can, removing any suckers.

Pruning your trees. It is not something that not many of us look forward to because it can be extremely dangerous, extremely challenging, and it never seems to look like we pictured it would look while we were up on the ladder

At least, that’s how it is for people who aren’t professionals.

That’s why AK Timber reaches out to citizens of Vancouver and asks them to allow us to help them with pruning and trimming their trees. Our full service team of arborists has vast experience in pruning trees of all kinds, from those that are common to those that aren’t so common in our area.

Our tools and equipment keep us safe and keeps your trees looking absolutely beautiful all year round. Reading trees and understanding them can be extremely difficult, but our team knows exactly what to look for to determine whether or not now is the time to prune or whether something even needs to be proved at all. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 and we’ll set up a free consultation so that we can get started on your trees.

Header photo courtesy of Maarten Heerlien on Flickr!