Even though the calendar says spring, we are still a ways off from leafy trees and flowering shrubs. You may not be thinking landscaping, but March is a great time to prune trees and shrubs. Damage from the windy, snowy winter often creates broken or damaged tree limbs. Before the trees leaf out you can easily see the structure of the plant. Pruning off dead or damaged branches prevent the opportunity for diseases to occur once the rainy cold spring comes or the hot humid summer weather.
But late March is not the best time to prune sugar maples for the same reason it is the best time for maple sugaring. On a warm day when you prune a maple the wound from the cut drips. In the landscape world we call it “bleeding”, in the maple syrup world we call it “sap”.
Other trees that bleed during warm spring days are birches, elms, honeylocust and other kinds of maples including Japanese maples. But, if you are pruning and not collecting the sap it can make a mess on the tree and be very unsightly.
So enjoy the maple syrup season and plan on pruning your maples when the day time temperatures remain below freezing.