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The Best Time To Prune Your Trees

We Brits love spending time in our gardens.  The average UK household spends over £300 maintaining theirs every year.  A variety of trees and shrubs are found in most gardens, providing us with many years of pleasure.  

People are often unsure of how and when to give them a bit of TLC.  The good news is, as long as you follow a few simple rules when it comes to pruning, your trees and shrubs will grow healthy and strong for years to come. 

Here’s some great advice from Johnson Land Services, Tree Surgeons in Tunbridge Wells on when is the best time to prune your trees. 

Why Do You Need To Prune Your Trees?

There are a number of reasons why you might want or need to prune the trees in your garden. These include: 

  • Encourage healthy growth
  • Restrict the size/shape they grow to
  • To grow more fruit
  • Safety reasons – dead and diseased branches are dangerous.  

General Rules 

The best time to think about pruning your trees and shrubs is towards the end of Winter when they are dormant because: 

  • Fewer leaves make it easier to see what you’re doing.
  • Wounds will heal quicker.
  • The chance of disease and pest infestation is reduced in colder months
  • Less sap bleeding 

Dead and diseased branches should be removed as soon as possible, regardless of the season.  

Deciduous Trees

The majority of deciduous trees should be pruned in winter between December and February (or at the earliest, late Autumn).  

There are some exceptions to this rule.  Cherry, walnut, maple, horse chestnut and birch bleed sap excessively, even when dormant, so prune these in mid-late summer (Jul – Aug) once any new growth has matured. 


A mainstay of British gardens, the requires very little regular pruning. You can do any pruning in late Autumn to Winter (November – February). Patches of dead foliage need to be removed quickly.  You can disguise any gaps can be hidden by tying nearby shoots together.  

  • If a tree has two stems, leave the one that is strongest, and cut the other as close to the base as possible. 

Non-blooming Trees and Shrubs

These should be pruned in late winter when they are fully dormant. Types of non-blooming tree include: 

  • Spruce
  • Yew
  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Juniper
  • Cedar
  • Cypress


Summer-blooming Trees and Shrubs

As with non-blooming trees and shrubs, prune in winter. These include: 

  • Juneberry
  • Acacia
  • Hawthorn
  • Cherry
  • Crab apple

Spring-blooming Trees and Shrubs

The majority of spring-blooming trees and shrubs should be pruned as soon as possible after they have bloomed. These include: 

  • Magnolia
  • Eastern redbud
  • Flowering dogwood
  • Cherry 
  • Wild plum

Call In The Experts For Large Jobs

The majority of annual basic annual pruning can be done by someone with a bit of gardening experience.  Major projects, or those that require working at heights, or using a chainsaw, are best left to the professionals. Look for tree surgeons in Tunbridge Wells.  If you don’t know what you are doing, you can seriously damage the long term health of your tree, and also endanger your own safety.