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Pruning Evergreen Trees

Evergreens are wonderful for keeping our gardens looking full of life all year round and providing flowers, cones or berries to bring beautiful colour throughout the seasons.


Whorl Branched Evergreens:

  • Pines

  • Spruces

  • Firs

  • Douglas Fir

Pruning Whorl Branched Evergreens

  1. Do not prune back into woody stems, as new growth will not develop from these areas.

  2. Spring is the best time to prune Spruces and Pines as new growth appears.

  3. Remove an entire branch when older pines are overgrown.

  4. Avoid Shearing Pines and Shear Spruces in late Spring, after new growth.

  5. Pinch 1/3 to 1/2 of each candle (new shoots) when it grows in the Spring to produce a neat, compact plant.

  6. Remove Spruces dead bottom branches.

  7. Cut back to a lateral branch or a dormant bud to reduce the size of a branch. This can be done anytime during the year.

  8. Pines produce their buds on the terminal tips of their shoots.



Random Branch Patterns:

  • Yew

  • Arborvitae

  • Hemlock

  • Cedar

  • Juniper




Pruning Random-Branched Evergreens

  1. Arborvitae need maintaining and can withstand heavy pruning and shearing. This is because new branches develop from concealed buds in the branch crotches.

  2. Do not lower plants more than 20 percent and make cuts into live wood.

  3. Many Random-Branched Evergreens will develop a deadzone which has been deprived from sunlight. Do not prune heavily if at all in these areas.

  4. Prune live branches and stems avoiding the dead zone.

  5. Avoid pruning late August to prevent rot or disease.

  6. Regaining the natural shape of the plant, you should balance lower limbs by lightly pruning tips.

  7. Aim to shear many of these types of plants when there is active growth.

  8. Pruning side branches will help to correct the shape of the plant.

  9. Yews are very tolerant of pruning, as new growth appears on old wood. This means you can prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

  10. Do not shear Yews after August, but continue shearing throughout the growth season.

  11. Hemlocks can be pruned or sheared as a hedge.

  12. Only prune the strong central branch leader to control plant height, shear into special shapes or increasing the density of branching.

When to prune?

  • All evergreens (except Pine) need to be pruned in the Spring or semi-dormant period in early and mid-summer.

  • Shearing is more welcomed in early summer and Spring.

Which Garden Tool To Use?

Due to the size of the branches you have the option of:

Pro Telescopic Geared Pro Ratchet Anvil Pro 250mm Pruning Saw

Garden Hedge Shears Telescopic Loppers



Pro Geared Hedge Shears Pro 180mm Pruning Saw Pro Telescopic Anvil Loppers



Pro Garden Hedge Shears Pro 180mm Pruning Saw Red


General pruning advice?

  • Let your tree be your guide with the branching pattern. This is it's natural shape, so follow it and remove dead, broken or diseased branches as and when.

  • Selective pruning is advised over shearing in many cases. Pruning one branch at a time is more specific and controlled. Shearing is for creating shapes that look out of place, but is more challenging to maintain as the plant increases in size.


Losing it's leading branch

  • When you find that your branch leader is no longer there, sometimes a new leader will naturally develop from a latent (dormant) bud.

  • If the leader doesn't develop naturally, you can train a branch by tying it to the topmost branches upright.

  • If two leaders develop, remove the weaker branch.

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