It’s Cold Outside, but Perfect for Pruning!

January is ideal time for cutting back trees and shrubs

Brookfield, Wis. – January features some of the year’s most unforgiving weather. However, for those willing to brave the elements or hire someone who will, January is the most forgiving time to prune trees and shrubs.


Many natural factors combine to make January perfect for cutting back outdoor plantings, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield. The month’s cold ensures that plants can be trimmed easily and at almost no risk to their long-term health.


“Many people think ‘Trees and bushes aren’t growing - why should I prune them?’” Ruedt said. “The best time for pruning is when plants are completely dormant and many have lost their leaves. Despite its cold, snowy nature, January is the best time to be outdoors cutting back plants.”


The absence of leaves creates several advantages. A tree’s shape is clearly visible. Branches can be trimmed to achieve its desired appearance. Broken limbs are obvious. Dead wood is noticeable by its lighter coloration and cracked or peeling bark. Clean-up after pruning is easier with less debris.


Winter cold ensures that open wounds from newly-cut branches are not susceptible to disease, fungus or insects, Ruedt explained. Frozen ground eliminates concerns about soil compaction, which is especially important if heavy equipment is used.


Overgrown shrubs are welcoming winter homes for small animals, which might chew their bark and eventually try to move into a nearby house, Ruedt said. January shrub pruning is easier with the plants’ structure and dead branches in stark contrast to surrounding snow.


Granted, it’s cold out. Many homeowners might question trying to prune if they can’t feel their fingers. Winter is the most affordable time to hire a professional, Ruedt said. Many companies will offer bargain rates during a typically slow business period.


“Costs are usually better this time of year,” he said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get rid of unwanted or dead trees and shrubs, or cut them back so that they are healthy and more attractive once warm weather returns.”


Founded in 1999, Grounds Maintenance Services offers in-home Christmas tree delivery, holiday lighting setup and snow plowing, plus a full range of landscaping and yard maintenance services. Its professional staff prides itself on helping homeowners gr

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