Winter is an excellent time to prune ornamental trees and young shade trees!
Making proper pruning cuts is vital to the long-term health, stability and strength of your ornamental and young shade trees. Trees planted in the open landscape can develop multiple main leaders or spreading, reaching branches that can be structurally weak, and can cause significant damage to the tree when it breaks. Removing those types of branches when they are smaller is better for the tree and can help avoid long term issues with your trees. Winter is the best time to do this type of pruning because all the leaves are off the trees and there is an unobstructed view of the crown of the tree.
Some types of structural pruning include; reducing a competing leader so that a single dominant leader can be developed; reduction cuts shorten branches back to limb to reduce the overall crown size of a tree, and thinning allows more light into the interior canopy and reduces wind resistance within the crown. While these types of pruning may result in apparent holes in the crown, they are only temporary as the tree will continue to grow and fill in, especially if it is a young tree. Having this type of pruning work done on your trees every 1-3 years, while they are young and establishing, will help ensure your trees have a long and beautiful presence in your landscape.