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Four Evergreen Pruning Tips

Full evergreen trees, such as yews as spruce trees, can provide year-round color in the landscape. They make a good anchor plant in an island garden bed, or you can use them to frame in an entry or walkway. These trees also make good windblocks if the branches and needles reach to the ground. Keeping them properly pruned is the key to ensuring they continue to add a stately and symmetrical element to your yard, and these tips can help.

Tip #1: Spring Is for Shearing

Wait until new growth begins to show on your evergreens in spring before bringing out the clips. By waiting until spring, you will give any winter-damaged branches or burned needles time to recover. This also ensures the tree is back in its full growth cycle so that it can recover quickly from any cuts.

Tip #2: Stay In Shape

The simplest way to trim is to maintain a shape close to that which is natural to the tree. Upright, narrow trees often look good with points, either sharp or slightly rounded. Wider trees and shrubs may lend themselves better to a rounded top. When trimming the tree, always point or round the top. You want to avoid the flat top, especially in snowy areas where the weight of winter snow can collapse the evergreen. It’s also a good idea to prune the bottom so it is wider than the top. This ensures that the bottom gets plenty of sunlight and rain. If you aren’t sure how to shape your tree, or if it’s badly overgrown, call in a professional tree trimmer to do the job. Once you have the basic shape, you can then maintain it on your own.

Tip #3: Avoid the Wood

When cutting through branches, examine each spot carefully before you clip. Make sure there are needles on the branch on either side of the spot where you plant to slice through the branch. Evergreen trees will end up with a bald spot if you cut back into the woody area of the branch, which is where needles no longer grow. Avoid pruning back too severely if you want to avoid that bald, sickly look.

Tip #4: Mind the Maintenance

Evergreens aren’t prune it and forget about it plants. Your trees will likely need a second trim in midsummer, and possibly a third in fall, if you want to keep them shaped up prettily. Simply cut back any overgrown branches to maintain the shape of the tree. Wait until after the first light frost before you do your fall pruning, though. This ensures the tree is entering dormancy, so it won’t send out tender new growth in response to the trim.

If you’re not comfortable pruning your trees, hiring a professional, like those at Tall Timbers Tree & Shrub Service Inc, is a good way to ensure this chore is done properly.