February and March are good months for pruning evergreen and shade trees in the garden. Trees planted five, ten, fifteen years ago have branches now that extend far beyond their original space. These branches bring shade to previously sunny areas and can affect the growth of lawns, perennials, and vegetables growing nearby.
One way to to increase sunlight in the garden is to “limb up” evergreen and shade trees removing the lower branches to allow sunlight to filter in below. Pole pruners and pole saws are the best tools and safest way to get this work done. I will occasionally use a small step ladder to gain a few more feet of height, something I only do when there is no snow on the ground.
Flowering and fruiting trees can be pruned at this time as well. Lower branches on these trees are ornamental and should be left whenever possible and pruning is more for the removal of broken, damaged and dead limbs. Interior branches growing into the crown of the tree instead of outward should be removed as well to provide additional light and air to the tree canopy.