The Q&A Archives: Bacic guidelines for tree pruning in Orange County

Question: I am writitng an article for my home owners assocsiation.
I want to suggest that people avoid pruning of back yard trees during nesting season to help maintain bird habitats.The season lasts mainly from Jan-July. I am wondering if is all right for trees to be pruned in fall instead of spring when the birds are nesting. Do you have any advice?
Thank You

Answer: I understand your concern about disturbing nesting birds and hope the following information will help you explain the basics of pruning. Timing is everything in terms of growth and flowering and the optimal time to prune really depends upon the tree or shrub you're pruning. If you prune too early or too late, you can accidentally prune off flower buds for the next season's display, or you could prompt early growth which may be damaged by a late cold snap. The best time to prune is immediately after flowering so plants have an entire growing season to develop flower buds. If the shrubs or trees are evergreens, or do not bloom, they should be pruned just as new growth begins (early spring). If you wait until nesting season is over and you prune in August, new growth will have only a month or two to develop before fall sets in, and you may be accidentally removing flower buds for the next year's display; if you prune in December, you may encourage unseasonal growth which may not be cold hardy, even in Orange County.

I think the best approach is to suggest your neighbors become familiar with the habits of the local wildlife and try not to disturb them while they're nesting. I don't think every tree and shrub in every yard in the neighborhood is likely to be a nesting spot every single year. If people are aware of the nesting habits they should be able to avoid the "occupied" plants and prune those that are not being used by the wildlife. The following year they can prune the plants that they missed the last year. Just a thought -

Good luck with your article.

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