Trimming Trees in Summer: A New Yorker’s Guide

Summertime in the Big Apple is a time of longer days, warmer nights, and the breathtaking sight of our urban forest in full bloom. As we bask in the shade and admire the beauty of our trees, it’s crucial to remember that they, too, require our care. Yes, even in the heat of summer, tree trimming is important for maintaining a healthy and vibrant cityscape that we can all take pride in.

Why Trim in Summer?

You might wonder, “Isn’t it better to trim trees when they’re dormant in winter?” While there are benefits to winter trimming, summer pruning has its advantages. For starters, it’s easier to spot dead or diseased branches when the leaves are fully out. Plus, the active growth during summer allows quicker healing of pruning wounds.

However, summer trimming isn’t without its risks. Some trees can suffer heat stress, and freshly pruned branches can be more vulnerable to pests and diseases. This is why understanding when and how to trim your trees correctly is not just important, but empowering.

Timing is Everything

Generally, avoid trimming trees in late summer (August/September) to prevent encouraging new growth before winter. Early to mid-summer (June/July) is the sweet spot for most deciduous trees in NYC, like maples, oaks, and elms.

Here are some tips for specific NYC trees, such as the Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), Mulberry, and Maple, which are commonly found in our urban forest:

  • Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven): This invasive species needs to be controlled. Trim it in early summer before it starts producing seeds.
  • Mulberry: Early to mid-summer is a good time to trim this delicious fruit-bearing tree.
  • Maple: Early summer is ideal, but avoid trimming during heavy sap flow (spring).

The Right Tools and Techniques

Before you start trimming your trees, ensure you have the right tools: pruning shears (for small branches), and a set of loppers (for branches up to 2 inches in diameter), a hand saw for larger branches, and safety gear like gloves and glasses.

Here’s how to trim your trees like a pro:

  1. Start by removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches.
  2. Thin out crossing or rubbing branches to improve air circulation and light penetration.
  3. Prune for shape and size control, but avoid topping (cutting off the top of the tree).
  4. Make clean cuts outside the branch collar (the swollen area where the branch meets the trunk).

Special Considerations for Our Urban Forest

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when trimming trees in the concrete jungle:

  • Ailanthus: This fast-growing tree needs frequent pruning. Be careful of the sap, which can cause skin irritation.
  • Mulberry: This tree can bleed sap when pruned, so make clean cuts and avoid over-pruning.
  • Maple: Proper pruning encourages a strong branch structure. Be mindful of attracting pests with open wounds.

Aftercare is Key

After you’ve given your trees a summer haircut, remember to give them some extra love. Water them deeply, especially during hot weather, as water is essential for the tree’s recovery and overall health. Watch for signs of stress, like wilting or leaf drop. If you’re uncomfortable trimming your trees and happen to live in the Bronx, or Manhattan, give us a call and we’ll do it for you.

Remember: If you’re unsure how to trim your trees or if the job seems too daunting, don’t hesitate to reach out to an arborist like Jimmy’s Bronx Tree Service. We are always there to provide the expertise and experience needed to keep your trees healthy and beautiful for years, giving you the confidence that your trees are in good hands.