A question we’re often asked relates to the timing of when to cut down or prune a tree. People want to know whether it’s better to do this in the early spring, or perhaps it doesn’t make a difference and they can put it off into summer.

In this blog, the team at Croft Tree Experts will explore the different factors that determine the best time to trim, prune or cut down a tree.


A woman pruning a tree in winter.

Dormant Season (Late Fall to Early Spring)

For most deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in winter), the dormant season, late fall to early spring, is often the best time for major pruning or cutting down. During this time, the tree’s metabolic activity is significantly reduced, and it is not actively growing. This dormancy reduces stress on the tree, making it an optimal time for major pruning or even 

tree removal.

Without leaves, the tree’s structure is more visible, making it easier for arborists or homeowners to assess the overall health and structure of the tree. It allows for better identification and removal of dead or unwanted branches.

Late Winter or Early Spring

Pruning during late winter or early spring, just before the tree starts actively growing, promotes rapid wound healing. The tree is preparing for new growth, and the healing process can coincide with the onset of the growing season, reducing the stress on the tree.

It’s important to avoid pruning during the spring when the sap is rising. Pruning during this time can lead to excessive sap flow, potentially stressing the tree and making it more susceptible to diseases and pests.


Avoid Pruning During Extreme Conditions

Pruning during very hot or very cold temperatures can stress the tree further. Extreme conditions may compromise the tree’s ability to recover from pruning, and it can be physically uncomfortable for those performing the pruning work.



Consider Tree Species

Different tree species have varying growth patterns, susceptibility to diseases, and responses to pruning. For instance, fruit trees like apples or peaches are often pruned in late winter to early spring to encourage fruit production. Understanding the specific needs of each tree species helps in determining the most suitable time for pruning.

Emergency Situations

In emergencies, where a tree poses an immediate threat to people or property, prompt action may be necessary regardless of the season. Hazardous conditions such as a diseased or structurally compromised tree may require immediate pruning or removal to ensure safety.


 If you have trees in or around Ottawa that need pruning or cutting, contact us to find out how we can help. We’re Ottawa’s experts in tree services, with an arborist on our staff and years of experience with trees of all kinds.