Northern red oak in fall colors
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Don't Skip Pruning These Trees In The Winter
Pruning trees encourages healthy future growth. Oak, elm, and apple are among the many species suited to “dormant pruning,” which means you can cut them back in the winter months.
In cold weather, pathogens are less likely to infect the wounds left by cut away branches because — like the trees themselves — many bacteria and fungi go dormant in fall.
If fungi spores or bacteria are disturbed during winter pruning, they are less likely to spread. Plus, the tree will have more time to recover before it flourishes again in spring.
Hawthorne, beech, linden, and mountain ash are among the other varieties you should cut back at this time of year, and with less foliage in the way, the task is far easier.
Pruning birch, butternut, and maple is best left until the spring months, after the tree's initial flowering. If you're unsure, it's best to leave this task up to the pros.