Fall is not necessarily the best season to trim your trees — that is spring! However, if your tree has a lot of dead branches or cracked branches, it is usually better to remove them in the fall rather than let the snow and wind of winter rip them off and whip them into the side of your home. If you do trim trees this fall, here are a few tips to follow to reduce your risk of causing any long-term damage.

Don't trim in the rain

In some areas, the fall is really rainy. You might have to wait two weeks before there is truly a dry day, but it's worth the wait. Rainwater running into fresh cuts can carry fungi and bacteria with it, resulting in an infection. Make sure it is dry the day you trim, and also for a day afterward.

Sanitize your shears

In the moist conditions of fall, infection prevention is even more important than usual. You should sanitize your shears before trimming the first tree, and then between your trees. You can use either alcohol or a bleach solution to sanitize your shears. If you use bleach, add about a cupful to a gallon of water, and dip your shears right in. Let them air-dry afterward. If you use alcohol, you can simply wipe the shears off and then let the alcohol evaporate. 

Be sparing when removing branches

If your tree has a lot of extra growth and needs a good, thorough trim, that can wait for spring. For now, try to be sparing about what you remove. Take away the dead branches, any that look like they might crack off in the snow and wind, and any that show obvious signs of disease. If you take away too much right now, the tree may struggle to heal. It will heal more easily if trimmed in spring when it is naturally about to begin a period of growth.

Wait until the leaves have fallen

It is better to trim trees when they are dormant. You can tell when a tree is dormant by watching its leaves. When they have all fallen, the tree is dormant and in a better position to be trimmed. Don't trim until the last leaf has fallen.

Trimming in the fall is not always the best for your tree, but it can be safe and successful if you adhere to the advice above. Don't hesitate to call a tree trimming company if you need help.