The Best Time of Year to Trim Trees: The Benefits of Trimming Dormant Trees

October 12, 2019

With nearly 400 million hectares of tree-covered land throughout Canada, it’s no secret that we love our trees here. If we didn’t love them so much, we wouldn’t feature a leaf on our flag.

When you love something that much, you want to take care of it. Part of tree care is trimming the branches to promote growth. But, doing so at the wrong time of the year can do more harm than good.

Knowing the best time of year to trim trees will allow your trees to grow healthy and strong throughout the rest of the seasons. Keep reading to learn more about when you should have your trees trimmed.

When Is the Best Time of Year to Trim Trees?

The best time to trim most trees is when they’re dormant, but it can vary depending on the type of tree it is. Let’s break it down so you can see exactly when you should be trimming each type of tree.


Also known as evergreen trees, these retain their needles all year long. Although they may not appear to be dormant like their deciduous neighbours, they do stop growing during the winter months.

For that reason, the best time to trim conifers is in the late winter months. This gives them plenty of time to fall into a state of complete dormancy when it’s safest to trim them.

The times you need to avoid trimming conifers at all costs are during the spring and fall months. It’s during these times they grow the most. Trimming too late in the fall can be particularly dangerous as the tree doesn’t have time to harden off the newly-cut branch before winter sets in.

Deciduous Trees

Trees that shed their leaves every year are known as deciduous trees. It’s much easier to recognize when one of these plants is in a dormant state because it has shed all of its leaves.

This type of tree should also be trimmed in late winter after it’s fully dormant. Just waiting until all the leaves are on the ground doesn’t give trees enough time to fall into a fully dormant state, so you’ll need to wait until late winter. This timeframe covers non-blooming and summer-blooming deciduous trees. As you’ll see in the next section, there is one exception to this rule.

Spring-Blooming Trees

Trees that erupt in beautiful flowers in the spring should not be trimmed in the late winter. Instead, you’ll want to have them pruned as soon as possible after they’ve bloomed.

The reason for this is that their flower buds develop before they go into winter dormancy. So, if you trim them during winter, they won’t produce as many flowers. In most of Alberta and Saskatchewan, March is the best time to prune these tree varieties.

Benefits of Trimming Trees While Dormant

Now let’s dig into some of the advantages of trimming dormant trees. This will help you better understand why we recommend this practice.

Keep in mind that branches that are dead, diseased, or damaged should be removed as soon as possible rather than waiting until a tree is dormant. It’s not only safe to do so but is encouraged because it helps your tree stay healthy.

Shorter Recovery Time

During the winter, trees halt their growth. While this may sound like it would cause them to recover more slowly, this actually allows them to heal more quickly. This is because they don’t start healing until spring as they come out of dormancy. Then, they have plenty of access to sunlight and water so they can quickly heal wounds and promote new growth.

Fewer Pests

One of the reasons spending time outdoors during the winter months is so enjoyable is that there aren’t many pests around. Most pests go into hibernation or die off during the cold months. This provides fewer opportunities for a freshly-trimmed tree to become infested with insects. Insects can kill even a fully-mature tree and are particularly dangerous to fresh wounds on a tree.

Lower Risk of Disease

In part because there are fewer disease-carrying insects to worry about, trimming trees in the winter also helps prevent diseases from spreading to freshly-trimmed trees. This is because most tree diseases are bacterial or fungal in nature. Like the trees themselves, these diseases fall dormant in the winter and won’t infect fresh wounds.


Tree cutting service professionals will be able to do a much better job when they trim your trees in the winter. This is particularly true when dealing with deciduous trees since they won’t have any leaves. When your tree cutters can see the branches clearly, they have a better idea of what needs to be cut and have better access to do it.


In the winter months, there’s less sap to deal with. Not as much comes out and it often freezes shortly after it does. This makes it a cleaner job for the tree cutters, but it’s also what helps limit insect infestations. Many insects are attracted to the sap of trees, so when there’s less sap, there are fewer insects. It also keeps your trees looking great, which is good news for business owners that know how important it is to keep your landscaping in good condition.

Ready to Have Your Trees Trimmed?

Now you know that for the most part, the best time of year to trim trees is in the late winter. The only exception to this is trees that bloom in the spring. Those should be trimmed as soon as they bloom.

As you can see, there are many benefits to trimming trees while they’re fully dormant. If you want healthier trees that live longer and look better, be sure to schedule your next trimming for the right time of year.

If you’re ready to have tree cutting service performed on your Alberta or Saskatchewan landscaping, contact us today for a free quote. We’d be more than happy to help you keep your trees healthy and trim all year long.