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Trimming Alberta Spruce

Q: I have planted five dwarf Alberta spruce almost three years ago. My question is can they be trimmed?

If so, is there a way of doing it? They are getting bigger then what I expected. I would appreciate any information you could give me. Thanks, Glenda

A: Alberta spruces can be trimmed, but since they grow so slowly (only 2-4" per year, maybe), they usually do not require much pruning, if any.

If they must be pruned because they are nearing some obstacle (the house, for instance), prune as little as possible. Since they do grow so slowly, they do not fill in bare spots very well, if at all.

Be as judicious as possible, and only snip an inch or so back. If you prune too far back you'll prune into non-productive wood, and that branch will die back to its parent.

If this happens, you may develop a large opening that may never fill in again.

Do not use hedge shears.

This will only produce tufty growth on the ends, and you'll actually end up with more than what you started with.

Use a good pair of scissors-type hand pruners small enough to make good clean cuts.

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Tom Mugridge

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