It's Spring - Prune Your Trees!


Early spring is the best time to prune trees. Please take a moment to review the LCMA guidelines on tree maintenance. Take a walk down your sidewalk or alley with your arms above your head. If your hands or any part of your body touches tree or shrub, that needs trimming! Read on for more on pruning from the City Forestry Department.


Tips and Tricks for Pruning Your Trees
by Urban Forestry Operations Assistant Paul Cancik

 With spring upon us, many residents are eagerly planning their gardens and starting to spruce up their yards. Pruning helps trees live longer, which allows them to grow taller and contribute to Denver’s urban canopy. With this in mind, Denver’s Office of the City Forester is offering helpful tips for pruning. It’s important to keep in mind that if you cannot safely prune your tree from the ground, it’s best to hire a licensed tree care professional since they use specialized equipment and have the necessary field knowledge. When you prune a tree, you are planning for the future, and with patience, you will ultimately have results that benefit generations to come. 


Why should you prune your trees? 

  • Pruning helps ensure that your tree develops a strong form/structure and prevents breakage in the future.

  • Thinning your tree makes the crown (top) healthier by allowing more air and sunlight to pass through it.

  • Pruning, much like watering, helps give your tree longevity; future generations will be able to enjoy it.

  • Removing deadwood from your tree helps prevent insect infestation.

  • If pruning is neglected, a tree can become susceptible to breakage, making the tree potentially dangerous.


What should you prune from your trees? 

  • Follow the “3 D’s” of pruning: only remove Dead, Damaged and Diseased wood, especially if the tree is not established. You can also prune branches that impact the structural integrity of the tree.

  • Be deliberate about what you prune from a tree.

  • It’s important to prune around stop signs and to ensure sidewalks are clear to prevent accidents on or near your property. Stop signs should be clearly visible and sidewalks free of obstructions. The clearance requirements in Denver are 8’ above sidewalks and 13.5’ above streets and alleys.


When should you prune your trees?

  • While you may prune your tree year-round, ideally the best time to prune is late in the dormant season or early spring, before leaves form. This is typically a good time to remove excess or undesired branches because the tree is not putting forth energy to create foliage.

  • Certain trees, including American elm (Dutch elm disease) and fruit trees in the rose family (fire blight) should only be pruned while dormant to reduce the spread of disease.

  • Only prune a young tree two years after it has been planted and just focus on dead, broken, crossing and interfering branches. 


Tips for pruning:

  • Make sure that every pruning cut you make is clean and smooth. The best tool to use for pruning is a pair of sharp bypass hand pruners for one-inch branches because they make smaller cuts that the tree can recover from faster.

  • Colorado has a very short growing season compared to other regions. A shorter growing season means the tree has a shorter period of time to create and store energy, which ultimately affects how quickly a tree can recover from pruning. A young established tree can tolerate removal of 1/3 of its foliage in a growing season. A mature tree should never have more than 25% of its live foliage removed in one growing season.

  • If you are pruning something off your tree that you can’t reach from the ground, it’s advised that you hire a tree care professional since they use specialized equipment such as an aerial lift truck/bucket truck and they have the needed field knowledge and expertise. In the City of Denver, tree contractors are required to be licensed and insured. A list of Denver’s licensed tree contractors can be found by visiting

  • If you suspect an insect problem, contact a tree care professional to develop the most effective and environmentally conscious solution.

  • Covering a wound or using wound dressings is not recommended and may be detrimental to tree health.


Want to learn more? Our friends at The Park People offer a community forester program with classes that cover a variety of topics, including pruning and tree planting basics. You can sign up here:


 Happy pruning!

District 5 Community Town Hall Coming Up. Based on the 1,141 responses to Councilwoman Sawyer's 2020 Annual Survey, D5 constituents' primary concerns are, and agenda topics for this Town Hall will be:
  • Crime and Safety
  • Traffic
  • Development
Please attend to hear updates from City representatives in each of these areas, and also from Councilwoman Sawyer's office. There will be time for questions. Click here to register for the virtual meeting--all are welcome!

Mulch giveaway and compost sale time! Whether or not you recycled your Christmas tree with the City's TreeCycle program, all Denver residents are eligible to reap the rewards! Free mulch will be available on Saturday, May 1, from 8am until 2pm, or supplies last. Bring your own digging and hauling supplies--there are none provided. Visit Havana Nursery, Bear Creek Park, Veterans Park, or Sloan's Lake Park for mulch; compost will be available for purchase for $5 per bag, May 1 only, at ACE Hardware stores. Get all the details here!

A Recycler’s Guide to Spring Cleaning

It’s spring cleaning season! As you start cleaning out your home, garage, office, and/or yard, remember that Denver Recycles offers many programs and services that can help curb the waste associated with your spring cleaning efforts. Our Recycling Directory is the best one-stop resource for this information (available online and in our app). Just to make it even easier, we’ve pinpointed a few items you’re most likely to encounter in the cleaning process. Here we go:
  • Household Recyclables. Remember to capture recyclables from every room in your house, not just the kitchen! Empty shampoo bottles and laundry detergent bottles, toilet paper rolls, files and papers from your new home office (…or couch / kitchen office?). Be sure to recycle ‘em! The full Denver Recycles program guidelines can be found here.
  • Yard and Garden Debris. If you didn’t get to this in the fall, now’s the time to clear branches, brush, and leaves out of your yard. In addition to food scraps and napkins, remember that the Denver Composts program accepts yard debris too. This includes plant trimmings, small branches (no larger than 4 feet in length and 4 inches in diameter), and even weeds! If you don’t already have a green cart, consider signing up today by calling 311 (720-913-1311). Please note that the Denver Composts program is a fee-based program ($9.75 per month, billed quarterly at $29.25 per quarter).
  • Paint. Thanks to PaintCare, it’s easier than ever to recycle unwanted paint. And, best of all, it’s free! Check the PaintCare website for additional information and to find a free drop-off location near you.
  • Household Hazardous Waste. If cleaning out your garage or under your sink, it’s possible you’ll locate some household hazardous waste. Find details on acceptable items and how to set up a collection appointment here. Keep in mind, you must meet minimum requirements to make an appointment and there is a $15 co-payment.
  • Electronics. Did you know that it’s illegal to throw electronics in the trash in Colorado? Request an E-cycle Coupon today to receive a discount when you drop off your electronics at Blue Star Recyclers
A Second Life For Stuff. Have you spring cleaned your way into having things you need to donate? Lowry resident Sally Kurtzman has prepared an exhaustive list of organizations that can receive new and gently used items--as well as what items each group needs most, and how and where to donate. The list is available here; please print or save to refer to often!
Spring District 5 Parks Clean-Up Event. Save the date! This event is planned for Sunday, May 16, 8:30am -11:00am. Click here to access the volunteer sign up, where you’ll see a list of the parks, specific meet-up spots, available volunteer slots, and other guidelines. Last October, the D5 Team was thrilled to see more than 80 volunteers show up to help tidy about half of our District’s parks. We have no doubt that our community members will again step-up to lend a hand for the spring event. We hope you'll join us and thank you!
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