Some Tips and Tricks About Pruning Evergreen Trees

Most evergreen trees fall under the title of conifers or cone-bearing trees. Their needles, or leaves, vary in length from less than an inch to several inches long. Although most evergreens shed needles, they do not lose them all at the same time.

Tree Pruning

Generally speaking, conifers do not need much pruning for training purposes, like fruit trees or other decorative trees. Evergreen trees usually have one lead branch that starts from the trunk and reaches the top level of the tree. The lead branch grows with other branches stemming from the lead. In more mature trees pruning out a large secondary lead will do more harm aesthetically than good.

There are two main types of conifers, the whorled and the random branching. The whorled branch tree has branches in tiered groups that ring the tree. These include pines, spruces, and firs. The second type is the random branching tree, yew, cedar, and juniper, to name a few; they grow in what you might consider the more traditional fuller Christmas tree shape.

Is It Necessary to Prune Evergreen Trees?

Evergreens only need pruning if the tree has dead or dying branches or if the tree is diseased or infected. You need to trim dead or dying branches as soon as you detect a problem. Prune them back to the first section of healthy wood.

For diseased or infected trees, it is important to trim the affected areas back to the trunk. Be sure to disinfect your tools between every cut, so you don’t spread any infection. Do not use household products that contain bleach. Try “Lysol” or rubbing alcohol. How do I prune my evergreen?

When trimming back evergreens, be sure to cut only in the areas of the branch that have needles. If you remove all the needles from the branch, that branch will become dormant and then die. You should take the help of professionals such as tree trimming Sydney contractors for pruning evergreen trees.

When removing a limb from the tree, don’t cut flush with the trunk, this can cause several problems that will affect the entire tree. There is an enlarged knob where the limb and trunk meet. This is called the collar, prune the branch where it meets the collar. Whether trimming back a live branch or removing a dead one, be sure not to cut past the collar. Leaving the collar on the trunk will prevent decay and promote a healthy tree.

When cutting a large or heavy branch, use the three-cut method. 1) At 12 inches from the trunk, cutting from the bottom up, cut halfway through the branch. 2) About an inch past the first cut, towards the tip of the branch, trim the branch completely. 3) Make the final cut just above the collar. Cutting the branch in this manner will help keep the weight of the tree from ripping the limb from the tree and causing damage.

Is It Necessary to Coat of Finished Pruning? 

NO! Only use some kind of coating when controlling certain problematic insects. (Check with your local college agriculture department or with the local forest service station for more information on disease-carrying insect, blights or diseases in your area).

If you desire a thicker fuller tree, especially on pines and other similar trees, pinch the new growth in half using your fingers to avoid damaging the surrounding needles. When is the best time to prune? snow on evergreen branches.

When is the Best Time to Prune?

It is easier to tell you when not to prune. Don’t prune in late summer or early fall. This will promote growth, and the young branches will not mature enough to survive the cold winter.

Most other pruning that will occur on evergreen is decorative or aesthetic.

If you are trying to control the overall height of the tree, prune in the summer, if you are trying to promote growth prune in the spring, if you are pruning due to damage or disease, then prune immediately no matter the time of year. Winter pruning, while the tree is dormant, is desirable when you want to promote beautiful spring growth.

You should always keep in mind:

  • Evergreens do not need to be pruned unless there is a physical problem with the tree due to damage, death, decay, or disease.
  • Prune evergreens to keep them healthy and beautiful.
  • Less is more when pruning an evergreen. You can always take a little more off later. If you take too much off now, then you may damage the branch or the entire tree.
  • Consult your local nursery, college, or the Forest Service for great local tips and information.
  • Be sure to keep your pruning blades clean and sharp, whether using shears or a saw blade.