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There IS a benefit to your trees being bare and somewhat desolate-looking during this time of year: your dormant trees are gathering up strength to really put on a spectacular show when the warmth of Spring finally arrives. However, this is when you should lend a helping hand in the form of pruning; new growth has to be encouraged, and when the trees are bare, the branches are easier to see and to handle, not to mention the harder ground allows for easier access to the tree. Though its usually best to wait until the coldest part of the Winter has passed, (February through March is usually the best time to prune trees), it is not imperative to do so only in that window. For flowering trees, it’s critical that you prune while the tree is still dormant. If you prune after blooms have started to form, you could be limiting its blooming potential in the Spring. Some species, such as maple, walnuts and birches, may excrete sap. While this is not dangerous to the tree, it can be unsightly, so it’s best to prune when the weather is colder and the sap is not as likely to “bleed.” It’s important to remember that every branch should be removed for a reason. Each cut has the potential to change the shape of the tree substantially as well as its ability to bloom if it’s a flowering tree, so pruning should not be done without a “plan.” Dead, diseased and damaged branches should be removed as soon as possible, both to prevent the spread of potential disease and for safety’s sake. Dead branches can easily fall in the slightest crosswind and cause personal injury or