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When is the Best Time to Prune a Hazel Tree?

When is the best time to prune a hazel tree? Here’s the answer, plus why hazel tree pruning is important, and how to spot common hazel tree diseases.

Hazel is a deciduous broadleaf tree which is native to the UK. Of the official name Corylus avellana, this tree is well known for its flexibility during the spring months, so much so that it can literally be tied in a knot without breaking.

This is a tree that will grow up to heights of 12 metres and live for 80 years, although if coppiced, its life expectancy will extend to several hundred years. The edible nuts of the hazel tree form a popular element of the traditional Christmas nut selection and are used to make all sorts of food produce.

Why prune a hazel tree?       

The hazel tree benefits from pruning to keep it healthy as well as to preserve its appearance. It is also essential to prune your hazel tree so that energy is preserved for the production of the nuts.

A hazel tree will grow back vigorously following hard pruning, and the stems that grow tend to be much more colourful. This is particularly appealing throughout winter where a splash of colour is so welcomed. This method of pruning is known as coppicing or pollarding.

Also, as with any tree or shrub, removing any deadwood or any diseased, decaying or congested branches or stems is a must and should be a regular task because it will promote light penetration and better air flow which in turn will augment the tree’s health.

When is the best time for hazel tree pruning?

The prime time for hazel tree pruning is between late winter to mid-spring, so between February and April. Be sure to prune before the new leaves start to appear on the stems so you can enjoy maximum time admiring the pretty coloured stems.

It is important to prune a hazel tree at the time when most of the plant’s resources re focused on the roots so that regrowth is promoted. During the growing season the resources tend to be focused on the leaves, which means power will drain away if the leaves are pruned away and this will result in weaker regrowth.

If you want to bring on colourful stems, make sure you hold back until your hazel tree is one to two years old, as hard pruning doesn’t work well for particularly young hazel trees. By the second or third spring, you can safely cut back to 60-90cm from the ground when pollarding. After this a bi-annual programme which should maintain the tree’s shape, appearance and good health.

If you spot any diseased or damaged stems or branches then be sure to remove them immediately so that the health and safety of the tree is maintained. You should also take off any suckers throughout the year as soon as they appear and at least before they grow to ten inches. Take them off at a quarter of an inch above the base of the sucker so you don’t harm the trunk of the tree.

What to look for when pruning a hazel tree

The hazel tree is susceptible to blackfly and the glasshouse red spider mite. Look out for mottled foliage and early leaf fall.

Verticillium wilt is also a problem for the elder tree. This is a soil-borne fungal disease that gets into the plant through its roots. Dieback and wilting leaves result.

Luckily for the hazel tree, there are no real disease threats. However, you will need to look out for aphid, gall mite and sawfly infestations. Look out for distorted growth and galls, and caterpillar larvae. Squirrels adore hazelnuts so you may find them taking over your hazel tree, and coppice hazel is prone to damage by deer, so if this is a possibility be sure to take preventative measures.

Tree Preservation Orders

You must never proceed with any sort of tree work – including pruning, pollarding, coppicing, cutting back or dead-wooding – unless you are sure that there is no Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in place. If there is, you must seek permission from the local authority before doing anything. Be aware that this can take up to eight weeks to come through. Also note that if the tree is situated in a conservation area, permission must be obtained before proceeding with works of any kind.

The importance of hazel tree pruning expertise

If there is a hazel tree that you would love to see restored to prime condition, or you are unsure of formative pruning to give a young hazel tree the best chance of a healthy future, you should seek the expertise of a qualified tree surgeon.

When engaging a tree surgeon, be sure to choose one who can show you checkable references and official certificates that prove their qualifications for your total peace of mind. Also ask for evidence of insurance documents so you can be certain you are covered for the work they undertake. In addition, if possible, try to hire a tree surgeon with Trading Standards and local authority approval for heightened reassurance and a guarantee of value for money.

If you have a hazel tree that needs pruning or trimming, why not get in touch with T.H. Tree Services? As fully qualified and extensively experienced Trading Standards and local authority approved tree surgeons, we can provide you with specialist expertise across all elements of hazel tree pruning. For a free, no-obligation quotation, contact our helpful experts on 01268 642814 or get in touch here.


Terry and the team did a great job of reducing the size of a large tree in my garden by 50%.They turned up early, worked quickly and quietly and were so tidy. I was seriously impressed with the clearing up afterwards - they even went into the neighbours garden to pick up any branches that had fallen the other side of the fence.I'd definitely use this company again if needed.

Wow, thank you very much Lisa, what a fantastic review. The team look forward to the next time we might be of service to you. Best Regards.

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