Many natural factors combine to make January perfect for cutting back outdoor plantings, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield (http://www.groundsmaintenancewi.com). 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. Trimming back bushes can make them less inviting for creatures that chew the plants’ bark, Ruedt said. If the shrubs are close to a house, the animals’ next move might be an attempted relocation inside the home.
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.”
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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 grow their dreams, one yard at a time.