Brace Yourselves for RIOC Tree Pruning, Out of Season Again


Tree pruning is best done, for the sake of the trees, in winter. That’s because the trees are dormant then, their leaves fallen. Before that, trees struggle with the damage and can be permanently injured. An October assault on cherry trees in 2021 resulted in at least one dead tree and others damaged. But that does not seem to have awakened RIOC.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

In an advisory sugared with fluff, RIOC said, “To keep up with RIOC’s commitment to providing the best quality of life possible for those who live, work and visit our community, RIOC will be performing tree work to beautify and remove hazardous trees.”

But there are no hazardous trees in the areas indicated along West Main for the length of Southtown.  The scheduled tree pruning recalls the state’s brutal tree removal and abuse issues over recent years.

Here’s what the experts say about the right time for tree pruning:

Generally, the best time to prune or trim trees and shrubs is during the winter months. From November through March, most trees are dormant which makes it the ideal time for the following reasons:

  1. Trees are less susceptible to insects or disease.
  2. There is less impact on the surrounding landscape and our crew can easily see what they’re doing while all the leaves are gone.
  3. Trees heal faster, meaning that by the time spring rolls around, your tree will be happy and healthy again.

For a milder climate like New York City, that means late November at the earliest, but never when leaves are still on the trees, some still green.

Above, you can see an October 2021 assault on our treasured cherry trees by a RIOC crew. Here’s what it looks like today…

Dead charry tree, the result of RIOC pruning out of season. The entire row around it is stunted but surviving so far.

In Focus: The Hazards of Tree Pruning Out of Season

Pruning trees is a delicate art – one that takes years of practice to perfect. And although it may seem like a simple task, there are actually many different factors to consider when pruning a tree. One of the most important factors is timing.

Pruning at the wrong time of year can damage or even kill a tree. So, when is the best time to prune?

The answer to that question depends on the type of tree you’re dealing with. For most deciduous trees, like those on RIOC’s list for next week, the best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

Two and a half years ago, RIOC crews savaged the long, shady row of inkberry trees along the West Promenade. They still have not fully recovered.

This allows the tree to heal quickly and also helps reduce the risk of infection. However, there are some exceptions. For example, oak trees should only be pruned in late winter or early summer, as they are susceptible to a disease called oak wilt.

Several oaks are in the area RIOC is targeting.

Pruning at the wrong time of year can also damage a tree’s natural shape and result in unhealthy growth.

Pruning is an important part of keeping your trees healthy and strong. But it’s also important to know when NOT to prune. Pruning at the wrong time of year can be just as dangerous as not pruning at all.

Will RIOC Listen and Avoid the Disasters of Recent Years?

Probably not, but if enough people make some noise, some tree abuse and loss might be avoided.

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