Is it too late or too early to trim/prune a redbud tree?

The upper branches of our redbud tree have encroached on the house. We would like to prune the branches back so they don't touch the house and provide a path for crawling insects. We just purchased a pole pruner so we can reach the high branches.

We're in the US, Zone 6. The temperatures are at or below 0C (32F) at night and possibly 5-10C (40-50F) during the day.

We plan to cut the branches back by a couple feet. Is it safe to cut back the branches touching the house at this time, or should we wait for different weather conditions? If so, what conditions would be best?

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    What none of the other commenters have mentioned is that you just don't prune a tree "back" a couple of feet. Never never never leave a stub! You should prune a tree back to a branch, either the one the branch you're cutting emerged from or a branch that the tree put out from a leaf node on the branch you're trimming. It's true that some trees will be okay with a stub (American Linden, for example), but it's also true that many more trees will be hurt by a stub (oaks, for example). All a stub does for these trees is introduce the possibility of rot to a larger branch and then the trunk. – Jurp Mar 23 '19 at 1:03
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    Even those trees that are "okay" with stubs are only okay with them if the stub in question is from a young branch. No tree likes stubs created from the poor pruning of older branches. – Jurp Mar 23 '19 at 1:04

If,by Redbud, you mean a Cercis variety,these flower in spring before the leaves arrive - the best time to prune is immediately after flowering. If you do it now (assuming it hasn't flowered yet) you will lose some of the flowers, so if possible, just wait a week or three till flowering is done, then do it. https://www.gardendesign.com/trees/eastern-redbud.html

  • I do not know the exact variety, but yes, that is what I mean by "Redbud". – B540Glenn Mar 22 '19 at 17:50
  • Well then, depends how bad the overgrowth is in regard to whether you can wait till after flowering... it can be done now with no harm to the tree if you must. – Bamboo Mar 22 '19 at 17:57

The convention of pruning trees in the winter is really just a convention, not a necessity. The truth is you could prune at any point during the year. Basically, the only reason I prune in the winter is because the tree is dormant during the winter. This means that there will be a reduction in the chances of an infection. The other reason is because all the foliage is gone, so branches are easier to access in the winter.

Feel free to prune your tree this year, it will be fine.

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    With some trees, it is important to prune at the right time - flowering trees, for example, along with Acers (especially Japanese acers). Along with some others, these trees may bleed copiously if pruned at the wrong time of year. It's always best to check.... – Bamboo Mar 22 '19 at 17:24
  • That's why I asked. :-) – B540Glenn Mar 22 '19 at 17:58
  • @Bamboo I will defer to your expertise. – Rob Mar 22 '19 at 19:04
  • @Rob.... the point, as far as I'm concerned, is for me to pass that 'expertise' on wherever possible, while I still can! – Bamboo Mar 22 '19 at 19:41
  • @Bamboo While you still can, sounds ominous, I hope all is well; consider the information to be absorbed, with much gusto, muchas gracias. – Rob Mar 22 '19 at 19:59

I would trim one limb that you can easily see. If it bleeds a lot of sap, I wouldn't take more than a couple of larger limbs now, if any. Wait until next winter to get the other large limbs. The small limbs less than 1/2 - 1 " in diameter can be pruned anytime. But the large ones are the ones that can cause loss of sap and infection.

As one person mentioned, do NOT leave stubs! Cut where the limb meets another limb, but don't cut into the circular rim that that limb makes coming out of the other branch or you risk injury to the branch it came out of.

If you can't easily reach the places where you need to make your cuts or if there are more than a couple of limbs bigger than 2-3" in diameter that you need to cut up high, I'd get a professional. In one of those conditions, it's not going to be easy or safe to cut those with a pole saw when you don't have any experience, not to mention what you might do to your tree or to your house. Do NOT get on a ladder with a pole saw! It is very easy to lose your balance with something heavy way over your head.

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