As we head into the second half of February, it’s time to start thinking about the yard and landscape. What? It’s still going below zero and there is over 30 inches of snow on the ground, at least here in Minnesota. If your vision for your beautiful landscape includes trimming and/or removal of trees, you have about 45 days left before it’s too late.

Here is why this is the time of the year to do tree work. If you need trees trimmed, you need to have it done while they are in full dormancy. By pruning and trimming while the tree is dormant, it will have to endure much less stress. In fact the healing process will begin in earnest immediately, so when insect and disease season comes around, the cuts or wounds will be healed over sufficiently enough to ward off problems. Whether trimming yourself or having professionals doing it, it is best to not paint over the wound. The tree will be much better off by letting the air get to the cut and heal over naturally. Here’s another tip. Do not cut down or trim off more than a third of the total size of the existing tree. Two problems result from this drastic a trim, a tree will be very stressed and may not survive and the result after the trim will be an ugly unnatural looking tree. My suggestion is, if you believe a tree requires that much trimming, just remove the whole tree.

Another reason to trim and/or remove trees now is the ground is frozen. Your turf or landscape won’t get so badly damaged by dropping limbs and trunks with the ground frozen underneath. A good snow cover also helps cushion the falling trees and limbs. The only thing that can’t be done too easily is grinding the stump out when the ground is frozen. I personally am not a fan of stump grinding anyway. Just have the trunk cut off at ground level. If your tree stump will be in a landscaped bed, have the tree guys leave a flat top stump 20 or so inches high. You can use the stump for potted plants! You can also leave a stump as high as you need to have a chain-saw sculptor come in a make a landscape masterpiece for you!

Whether trimming or removing whole trees, get as much of the tree debris up that you can. Some will get buried in the snow, so you’ll have to wait until spring to finish the clean up. Remember, do not rake the yard until it has completely dried from snow melt and spring rains. If you think the turf is dry enough to rake, check some grass crowns at various place around the yard. Make sure they are greening up, and are anchored in the soil well. Simply give them a little tug, make sure they don’t pull out to easily.

If you live in Minnesota, there are certain tree species that should be removed. The Department of Natural Resources has listed the Buckthorn and the Chinese/Siberian Elm as noxious vegetation. Buckthorns spread considerably by birds who eat the berries of the tree, and then leave their droppings all about. The Chinese/Siberian Elms are called “prodigious seeders” by the DNR. There are times in late spring early to early summer when it look like a blizzard is blowing through your neighborhood. These are the seed from these Elms. It doesn’t take long for the lawns, beds, and gardens to be taken over by Elm seedlings. Cottonwood trees, though not listed as a noxious tree, are very much a mess to the suburban landscape. It’s not just the snow storms from the trees’ release of its’ seeds but they drop branches and limbs all year-round. The “cotton seeds” get into everything. They clog up air conditioner condensers, they clog swimming pool skimmers and pumps, they fill garages with cotton, and they sprout unwanted seedlings wherever they land! Because Cottonwoods are a “soft wood” tree, they are very vulnerable in heavy thunder storms and heavy early and late season snow falls. Another soft wood tree to consider removing is the Silver Maple. These trees are very messy, from the release of their “helicopter” seeds to the dropping of branches and twigs year-round. They will also ruin your lawn, landscape, driveways, sidewalks, and house foundations because they have very aggressive surface growing roots. They grow fast, and are beautiful bright yellow in the fall, two things that home owners value. But, the negatives, in my educated opinion, far out weigh the positives.

If you have maples of any variety, they should be trimmed now. If you wait too much longer, they will bleed like crazy as the sap starts running. A “bleeding” maple doesn’t get hurt by this, it just makes a mess. If you want Ash trees removed, check with your local forester on the local policy for Ash removal. The Emerald Ash Borer is beginning its march through Minnesota. If you have Oaks to trim, do not wait past the first of April. The cuts or wounds will need the time to dry and heal before the Oak Wilt spores start blowing about the neighborhoods.

A properly pruned tree will make for a prettier and healthier tree. The middle of trees should be “opened up” every few years to keep air and sunlight coming in. In one season, you’ll notice how much prettier, balanced, and shaped your tree is. Dead and diseased limbs should be removed, they become hiding places for insects and disease.

This is a reprint from last February. I get lots of questions about this topic, so I thought it a good idea to run it again. If you do have questions, either comment on the post, or e-mail me at;
Thanks a lot, I hope this helps you.

Cam Obert



  1. Dan Bennington Says:

    Cam, thank you so much for this article. Not because I need the info about pruning and trimming, but because it is light at the end of this ugly tunnel we call winter. This creates hope that this winter will actually end. When I go home tonight it will be with renewed hope a spring.

  2. youandmedoweagree Says:

    Hi Cam,

    Hope all is well! I just read your post on tree trimming and removal and I am wondering if I can ask you a few quick questions. We have 10 acres down in New Prague and after you dig down about 16″ or so we’ve got a whole lotta clay. Ugh. When we first built and started doing some landscaping we had two red maples (not exactly sure what kind right now – it gets beautiful purple/burgundy leaves) planted. One of them died after the first year and the other one…well…I’m not sure what happened exactly – someone told us that last winter was a hard winter and it “froze”. It literally got a couple dozen leaves (it’s probably 8′-10′ tall) right up the center an that’s it. Is there anything we can do to “help it along”?? It looked pretty sad last summer. Hahaha! Question 2: We have two small Boxwoods planted and I’m wondering if you know when the best time to trim them is and also what do to about dead “branches” right in the middle of them – can I just snip those off? Third and final question…we planted 21 spruce trees (Black Spruce and Colorado keep coming to mind, but again…I’m not entirely sure) around our yard and then we also planted about 60 small ones (12″ or less) from Scott County. Some of them died (possibly due to poor transplanting on our part). For the rest, do we need to fertilize them and if so, do we use those spikes you can pike up at the local hardware store? The guy who initially helped us out with all the landscaping has magically disappeared…


  3. youandmedoweagree Says:

    First of all, any trees you plant, make sure you do not mulch around them. The clay keep the roots wet enough on it’s own, mulching will keep them too wet. Normally, Maples don’t mind “damp feet”, but if they are too wet, like anything else, they will die. Wait for the new growth to come in on the Boxwoods, late spring to early summer to trim and shape them. Try to keep the dead inside growth pruned out, so that they can “fill in”. For your bigger Spruce trees, you can use the spikes. Pound them in at or near the drip line of the branches, if they’ve only been in the gound a year or so, move the spikes in toward the trunk a little closer. For the smaller ones, just sprinkle a couple handfuls of a granular all purpose garden fertilizer around the base and scratch it into the soil. Water the trees pretty well after fertilizing. Since you are in an area where clay is down at the root level, you don’t need to water as much.

  4. youandmedoweagree Says:

    Brandi Ott Doyle February 16 at 12:36pm
    Thank you so much!

  5. Nature-Scape, Inc. Says:

    Right on the money.

  6. Almond Defcel Says:

    This is an excellent access of information. I just got interested with your creation on how you explicate even the most simple details regarding with the tree trimming and removal. Thanks for sharing such informative one. Keep posting.

  7. Tree Pruning Brooklyn Says:

    Tree removal usually takes the work of a couple of men, or at least one man with some powerful equipment! Depending on the size of the willow, that is.

    -Samudaworth Tree Service

  8. Http:// Says:

    Hi there I am so glad I found your weblog, I really found you
    by mistake, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Anyhow I
    am here now and would just like to say thank you
    for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love
    the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and
    also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  9. TruGreen Lawn Maintenance Says:

    Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too fantastic.
    I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you are saying
    and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart.
    I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: