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Trim a Spruce Tree

Q: Hi there; I need some help on how to properly prune a spruce tree.

I have a beautiful spruce about 8-10 feet tall that ideally I would like to keep this size. I sort of know how to trim the new growth in the spring but am concerned about the height.

Is there a way to prevent it from getting taller? It has two growth shoots at the top so I'm going to cut off the weaker one, however can I top the primary one to prevent it getting taller?

Can I only prune in spring? I look forward to your help.

Steve

A: Ideally, pruning should take place in late spring when the "candle" has finished growing and just before the needles unfurl from this candle. At that time, you can prune of 1/3 to 1/2 of the candle to reduce the amount the tree will grow for that year.

At this late stage, you can still prune off about 1/3 of the new growth to reduce the growth. This can be done on all the branch ends if you like, or just on the main branch end.

It is wise to remove 1 of the tops and allow the other to become the dominant leader, otherwise the tree may develop 2 tops that compete.

You will not be able to keep the tree at this size forever, the tree must grow a little every year to be able to sustain itself, but you can slow its growth down by "candle-pruning" every year.

Never remove more than 1/2 the length of the candle -- the tree is relying on the needles that will develop to produce its food.






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Arborist Tom Mugridge






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