DIY Tree Trimming Tips: Pruning Maple Trees & Oak Trees in Winter

diy tree trimming oak trees

There is never a wrong time to remove dead branches from a tree, but did you know most trees need to be trimmed during the winter months? From November through March, many trees lay dormant and are much less susceptible to diseases when cut during this time. Pruning during the winter months also allows for trees to heal more quickly in the spring and for faster, healthier growth. 

This especially applies to Oak and Maple trees. These two types of trees are sprawling and stunning on any property, but they can easily become unhealthy or filled with diseases. The best way to prevent decay from happening is by keeping them trimmed and healthy. You can do a lot on your own, but keep in mind that clearing out the tops of more giant trees may be challenging and may require calling a professional tree trimming service instead.

However, if you're interested in trying it yourself, here are DIY tree trimming tips for trimming oak trees and trimming maple trees this winter or early spring. 


When To Trim Young Oak & Maple Trees

If you've just planted the trees around your property, chances are you're working with younger ones. For younger oaks and maples, you should trim them specifically during the late winter months. The best time to prune maple and oak trees is in January or February. Being deciduous trees, they will have fewer leaves on their branches during this time of year allowing the best view of the canopy shape for cutting. This allows it to care for itself more efficiently during the spring months. 

You should limit your trimming to only the dead-looking branches or broken branches. This is also an excellent time to begin cutting things to develop the overall shape you want the young tree to grow into.

These first few years are essential for paying attention and learning the growth patterns of your particular tree. Maybe it grows faster than others because of its sunny location, or it struggles to grow because other big trees surround it. These are essential things to note, and you can cater your trimmings to fit each unique tree.

Why Is Tree Trimming Important?

The importance of a regular tree trimming schedule is crucial. As we mentioned earlier, trimming during the winter months allows for the tree to care for itself in the spring and can prevent diseases from occurring. Properly pruning trees can keep your trees at their desired size and stop them from growing out of your property lines. If your tree gets too big and starts to hang over a neighbor’s yard, this can cause lots of issues. It's best to keep things neat and trimmed for everyone's happiness.

Additionally, pruning and trimming can keep trees strong and prevent dangerous small branches from falling and hurting someone or damaging your property.


How To Trim an Oak or Maple Tree

You will need supplies to trim a tree properly. Some recommended tools and supplies are listed below:

  • Hardhat
  • Safety Goggles
  • Pruning Shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Limb Saw
  • Buck Saw
  • Rope Saw
  • Chainsaw (If you know how to use one properly)
  • Pruning Sealant

The hardhat and safety goggles are for your protection against falling debris. The different-sized saws each work best on different tree branches and trunks, depending on how much you plan to trim. Someone with extensive power tool experience should only use a chainsaw because handling them can be dangerous.

Additionally, it would help if you used a ladder with lots of caution. DIY tree trimming is possible but can also be risky. If you're unsure of how to use these tools, you should consider calling in a professional tree trimming service instead. You can save a lot of time and headaches this way.

red leafed tree ready for diy tree trimming

Photo by Dianne from Pexels

What To Trim Exactly?

There are a couple of terms for pruning techniques you should learn if you're interested in DIY tree trimming. The first is called 'thinning,' which means removing dead branches and clusters of leaves or twigs and is the most basic form of clearing off a tree. Of all the types of trimming you'll be doing, this is the easiest one to maintain clean and healthy-looking trees. It makes everything look better and provides the tree with more air, light, and circulation.

'Crown raising' is when there are multiple trees in a row, and you want to open the space up a bit, either to create a park or clear things out for a road. The trees will still hang about with their canopies touching, but you're clearing out the lower hanging branches or anything below 8 ft. 

'Reducing' means cutting branches or limbs to make a tree smaller. This can be necessary if your maple or oak grows too close to a house or a power line. For big jobs like this, you should let the professionals come in and handle it for you. It can be dangerous work.

Be sure to make clear and concise pruning cuts, and not damage the branch collar. This is the part where the branch meets the trunk of the tree and cutting into it could leave damage or kill the tree.


When To Call The Professionals

Climbing high up on a ladder by yourself while holding sharp tools is never a good idea if you don’t have the experience. If the tree trimming puts you in a dangerous position, stick with the professional landscaping companies instead. They are trained and have the tools at their disposal to take care of the job much easier than you could. You should be fine to do some basic thinning around your tree, but make sure you know how to use the tools properly beforehand.