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Annual Arizona Tree Trimming Guide

If you own trees or other plants in Arizona, you may have wondered when the best time to trim these plants is. Depending on the diversity of plants in your yard, building a maintenance schedule to take care of them all can be overwhelming. To help solve this problem, we have created this guide to help explain what time of year is the best time to work on those trees!

One thing to note, trimming trees and pruning trees are two very different jobs. Although the terms get used interchangeably, they have very different outcomes for the trees. Trimming is removing branches or sections of the tree to shape it to provide more light and wind to pass through. Pruning, on the other hand, is the process of removing dead wood or other elements of the tree that will hurt the tree if it continues to use resources on it. This includes entire branches, but only when necessary because they have grown in a bad area or are rubbing against other branches. In general, pruning is meant to help the trees' health and to help them grow, whereas trimming is to improve the aesthetic look and function of the trees.

Desert Trees:

Desert trees often grow very quickly and must be trimmed twice a year. This includes popular species such as the palo verde, mesquite, and sissoo trees. The best months to prune these trees are either in the winter, from late November through February, or in spring, between May and June. Preferably both.

Trimming desert trees in the wintertime is excellent because the tree has gone dormant and will suffer minimal damage from the trimming. The tree will secrete less sap and employ fewer defensive measures due to all the wounds. The tree will release less sap, attracting fewer insects and being less susceptible to disease during this time. Another side effect of being dormant; an arborist will see the tree's structure much clearer due to its fewer leaves. A better view of the tree's structure enables him to choose branches to prune selectively to help the tree grow or improve the overall look of the tree.

Trimming these fast-growing desert trees before the summer monsoon season can save you thousands in unexpected repairs. The high winds and extreme heat during summer wreak havoc on trees. If your trees are overgrown, they will be far more likely to crack, break, or be pushed over by the wind. Get them trimmed back after the springtime bloom season but before they become a hazard to you and your property.

Palm Trees

Trim Palm trees after mid-late June. This ensures that most of this year's seed pods can be collected. It's crucial to wait until these pods have come out, or else you will have to prune the tree again to remove them. If you own a palm tree, you know what a mess the seeds and pods can be. You'll want to keep them from dropping all over your yard, driveway, and pool. It will also ensure that the tree is ready for the monsoon winds. Palm trees carry their weight at the top. If left untrimmed, the unnecessary fronds will cause excessive weight and stress to the tree during high winds. When trimming a palm tree, be sure to use a professional. Professional palm tree trimmers will never use spikes, permanently damaging the tree. Trained arborists will also know how many fronds to remove so that the heat does not damage the "heart" of the tree. The heart of the tree is the most vulnerable section of the tree. The heart is located at the top of palm trees below the fronds.

Citrus Trees

It usually does not get cold enough here in the desert, but citrus trees are frost sensitive. Therefore, to avoid frost, it's essential to wait to trim them until the middle of February. They need the extra foliage to help protect them from frost and cold weather. Mid-February until the end of March is the best time to prune citrus trees.

Any later than March, they might get scorched by the Arizona heat once summer rolls around.

Fruit Trees

Trim Fruit trees, including apples, peaches, pears, and nut-bearing trees, from December until February. This is the best time for these trees because it will make the tree shorter before they produce fruit, making them easier to harvest. This is also when they are dormant and, like the desert trees, can heal much easier from the damages caused by trimming.


Spring is the best time to trim evergreen trees, including conifers and hardwood varieties. In Particular, aim for March. The next best time to prune evergreen trees is in September. If you wait until fall, ensure it gets done early enough for the tree to heal before it gets too cold. Unlike deciduous trees, these trees do not go dormant in the cold months and could suffer severe damage if they are not prepared for frost.

No matter the type of tree, it is crucial to get an arborist's opinion before you let anyone touch your trees. An arborist will build a long-term plan to ensure the tree grows correctly and in good health. While there, he will also be able to detect if any conditions are affecting the trees. Some tree conditions are invisible to the naked eye and can be hazardous. This is why you need more than just the average landscaper to trim and prune your trees correctly.


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