June 20

Best Time to Prune 5 Common Trees in Indianapolis, IN



When you look around Indianapolis what do you see that makes us so beautiful? It could be the people, it could be the architecture, but what we see that makes us the most beautiful place to live in all of Indiana is the different types of greenery that you can see throughout the city and beyond.

While flowers are fun and colorful, trees are the truly important part of our fabric. Trees establishing us as a city that cares about nature and the air that we breathe.

While it’s great to have trees in our yards, there are times that we have to take care of them and unfortunately, people don’t always realize that that needs to happen. Pruning your trees is a is a necessary evil that people will have to endure to get the beauty that trees can bring.

But just when do you prune trees? Let’s take a look at the common times to prune some of the most common trees to plant in Indianapolis:

5. Crab Apple Tree: As Needed

Properly pruned Crab Apple Trees
Credit: Ted
  • Pruning Maintains Silhouette
  • Prune Poorly Formed Branches
  • Use High-Quality Tools to Prune

Crab Apple Trees don’t typically need to be pruned. It’s one of the reasons why so many people in Indianapolis have this tree in their yards. Most people will only have to prune if they see a tree limb that is diseased or dying or if there has been some sort of breakage due to a storm. If that is the case, you need to be careful.

When it comes to pruning the Crab Apple Tree, you do have to be careful because any bruise or bad cut can result in diseases and pests being introduced to the tree. Use professional-grade equipment with sharp blades that will deliver clean, precise cuts. Of course, you also have to make sure that your cutting abilities are up to par.

According to This Old House, make sure that you clean up after yourself and the tree’s debris once it has been pruned, especially with diseased branches because the disease can spread easily.

4. Japanese Lilac Tree: Just After Flowering

Credit: F.D. Richards
  • Heavy Pruning Only Required if Overgrown
  • Use Pruning to Improve Air Circulation
  • Wait Until Flowers Have Dropped

According to SF Gate, Japanese Lilac Trees are one of the hardest trees to properly prune.

One thing you do want to be careful of is making too many cuts without stepping back and looking at the tree. The branches of a Japanese Lilac Tree vary in fullness and thickness, which can make it difficult to determine whether you are doing a good job unless you take a step back.

Once again, it is pivotal that you use high-quality materials and tools that make clean cuts and will not damage the bark of the tree, like a dull saw can do. This can lead to the limb dying completely.

Many professionals recommend pruning once the tree has flowered. You don’t want all the flowers to have dropped, but you do want many of them to be gone so that you can really see the thickness of the actual branches and not just the flowers. This is also a time when the branches of the tree are most susceptible to cutting because they are supple and strong. Prune too late, and you run into issues with water and brittleness.

3. Pagoda Dogwood: Late Fall or Early Winter

A Dogwood in need of pruning.
Credit: seedmiester
  • You Have to Read Nature’s Signals About Pruning Any Dogwood Tree
  • Use Small, Precise Cuts to Help Shape Tree
  • Be Careful About Tearing the Bark

Pruning a Dakota Dogwood is one of the most difficult trees to prune because you really need to know how to read nature, and even more importantly, how to read the tree. If you if there is a problem with boring insects in your region, you don’t want to prune the tree in the spring. So make sure to pay attention to your local news to see if there are problems in the Indianapolis area.  if you do prune in the spring and there are boring insects, they can get in and devastate your entire tree.

If your tree is actively growing, you don’t want to prune in the spring or summer because it will increase the production of sap and make it difficult for the tree to get proper nutrients to continue to have the strength to grow. Overall, most professionals agree that the best time to prune is typically in the late fall or winter when the tree is dormant.

According to The National Gardening Association, only cut up to “up to one-third of the live plant material. If you prune more than that, your dogwood can become stressed and more susceptible to insect and disease problems.”

2. Korean Fir Tree: As Needed

An unpruned Korean Fir allowed to grow.
Credit: Plant Image Library
  • Prune for Shape Only
  • Try to Prune As Little As Possible in Formative Years
  • Immediately Eliminate Diseased Branches

Many people who choose to plant a Korean Fir Tree do so because it grows slowly but strongly. This means that pruning isn’t typically necessary unless you are looking for a specific shape for your tree, like a cone or a more circular shape. Since some people choose to use the Korean Fir as an ornamental tree, pruning will be more common in some cases.

Most commonly, according to The Spruce, you’ll have to prune to reduce disease or infestations that can occur, especially in Indianapolis. This tree is highly susceptible to disease spreading, which is why you have to have a keen eye and pay attention to any problems that might pop up. If you see a problem immediately contact a professional who can tell you whether or not it is something to be worried about or do the pruning yourself if you are sure.

Once again, not pruning too much is the key to having a healthy Korean Fir.

1. Serviceberry Tree: May After Flowering

An example of a Serviceberry cluster forming.
Credit: Matt Lavin
  • Start Pruning After Flowering
  • Remove Small Stems and Branches First
  • Remove Clumps

The Serviceberry tree is one of the few trees where we can give you a definitive time to prune the tree. In May, after the tree has flowered and many of the flowers have fallen, that is when you want to make any cuts or trims to the tree itself. It is best to start with smaller branches and twigs that look out of place and help retain the shape of the tree. You can remove bigger branches, but you have to be careful about will rubbing or pulling on the bark of the tree.

One of the things you absolutely must eliminate is clusters. These are areas where you will see three or more stems coming from the same part of the tree. Eliminating all of these or all but one can help three grow stronger. Unfortunately, these sometimes occur very high up on the tree.

According to Bakker, pruning to raise the crown can even help the tree to grow taller.

As you can see, there are a lot of different times and different situations in which you need to prune your trees. Menchhofer Tree Care can help you to find when your trees need to be pruned, prune your trees for you, and even advise you on how to keep your trees healthy throughout the year. Pruning the trees in your yard isn’t the only thing that you need to do, but it is a huge part of keeping your tree stable safe and beautiful for years.

Our company has fully trained arborists and tree care professionals who can help you have a beautiful yard through pruning, trimming, and anything else you may need help with in terms of trees and shrubs.

Give us a call today at 1 (317) 661-4240 and we will set up a free consultation with you.

Header photo courtesy of Scott Costello on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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