How to prune pine trees video

Top Tips on How to Prune and Care for Evergreens

Last updated: March 29, 2021  by Rootwell Products Inc.

Pine trees are one of the hardiest types of trees. They have a naturally beautiful shape that rarely needs pruning.

There are some considerations if you have a few pine trees on your land, or want to do more to influence the shape, size, and health of your trees.

When And How to Prune Pine Trees

Pine trees are nature’s answer to green even in some of the earth’s coldest climates. Do you know there is a ring of evergreen trees around the whole earth, like a crown? They grow on every continent at high altitudes and cool climates. If you live in a cool climate, you appreciate your evergreen trees even more in the winter.

If you have a large yard or acreage where it doesn’t matter how big or tall your pine trees get, you may never need to prune. Pine trees naturally grow in a pleasing shape.

However, there are some reasons to prune a pine tree.

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Storm or Human Damage

Pine trees can sustain damage after storms just like any other tree. You will want to safely remove any broken limbs that occur as soon as you can after the damage. It is best if this can be avoided in the late summer or early fall to give your tree a chance to scab over before cold weather hits. However, sometimes it can’t be avoided.

Sadly, people can also treat trees like it won’t hurt them to tear off limbs and sticks. It is best to remove a wounded branch at the collar. The collar is the place where a branch joins the main trunk of the tree. It is slightly wider than the rest of the branch.

This is preferable to merely trimming the length of branches, as that will result in a stunted-looking tree over time.

There is another method to control the growth of the branches and make it more compact. First, the right way to cut a branch off at the collar is to first make a cut up from the bottom of the branch about a foot away from the trunk, then move out another inch or so and cut all the way through from top to bottom.

After the rest of the limb has been removed, cut the stub flush with the collar. This method prevents you from peeling bark from the trunk along with the wounded limb.

Branch Rubbing

Pine trees rarely have branches that rub each other, but when they do, one of the branches should be removed. Constant rubbing makes way for pests and diseases when the protective layer of bark is rubbed away.


You can make a pine look more dense and lush over time as it grows by pinching back the new growth tips – or candles – in the spring. Just break them off in the middle by hand instead of with shears. Shears can cut needles making them turn brown.

Diseased Pine Trees

The one thing we don’t expect is to see brown, dry needles on our pine trees at any time of year. If you are seeing brown needles, you need to diagnose the problem.

What season is it? What part of the tree is affected?

All pine trees have a shedding period. If it is fall, this is normal. All pines have an annual drop.

If, however, it is not the fall and you have a dead lower half, it is not normal and something probably needs to be done for the tree.

Here are some common things that can cause pine trees to do this:

  • Need for more sun – If there are lower branches that aren’t getting enough sunlight, they might react this way. You may want to trim nearby shade trees or anything surrounding the bottom of the pine so the lower branches can have access to sunlight.
  • Lack of water – The tree could be prioritizing the life of the tree over the life of the lower branches because it isn’t getting enough water. If you suspect this is the case, consider installing a deep root watering system.
  • Salt de-icer – Salt as a de-icer on your driveway can kill your trees. The bottom branches can be harmed by your salty driveway, where they are exposed to it all winter. Stop using salt on your driveway if you suspect this is the cause.
  • Disease – Lower branches dying might also be a fungal disease. Sphaeropsis tip blight starts at the tips, but eventually, the lower branches die. Clip out diseased sections when this happens and spray a fungicide in spring. Keep spraying until the new needles are fully grown.

Pine tree on left had Rootwell Pro-318s installed.

When to Fell Pine Trees

It is never easy to decide to cut down a tree. After all, they have been around for so many years by the time you have to consider cutting one down.

But they do, sometimes, need to be felled for the safety of people and buildings.

There are also a few other things to consider as you’re wondering if your tree can be saved, or if you want to keep it:

Is your tree healthy?

If you have a tree that is damaged over 50% of its body, it should probably be cut down. It would continue to survive, but it won’t ever come back to health.

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Is the trunk damaged?

If you see vertical cracks, seams, dead branch stubs, large old wounds or anything like that, it probably means the tree is suffering internally as well. Severe enough damage to the trunk – over 25% of the circumference of the trunk – probably means the tree should be cut down. If it’s less than that, the tree will eventually heal itself.

Is it hollow?

Hollow trees can actually live for a long time. The living tissue of the tree is actually just below the bark, not in the middle. However, a hollow trunk can make a tree weak and dangerous in storms. If ⅓ of the interior is hollow or rotten, the tree should come down.

Are there dead branches?

Trees with their tops broken, who have large damaged limbs, or have dead branches all on one side, causing them to be lopsided, are all a hazard to people. If over 25% of the branches are damaged, it needs to be removed.

Does your tree have sprouts coming from the base or small branches coming from the trunk?

Trees do not normally grow this way. It is a sign of severe stress. Trees that do this have probably experienced injury – usually related to home construction – or have been over-exposed to sunlight due to forest thinning.

Sometimes soil compaction can cause this. A professional arborist needs to evaluate this tree to see if it can be brought back to health. Otherwise, it is a danger and needs to come down. If over 50% of a tree’s root system has been damaged due to construction, it needs to come down.

Is there trunk rot or large fungus near the base?

Sometimes mushrooms and trees go hand in hand. However, if a fungus is growing on the tree itself, it could be an indication of internal rot.

Is the tree leaning?

Sudden leaning means the tree has had a breakage or weakening of its roots. A tree that has grown leaning – more than 15% off from vertical – has a higher chance of falling and should probably be taken down.

Special considerations:


Pine trees are some of nature’s most beautiful giants. Care for yours well and it will bring your winter days cheer for years to come.

Rootwell Pro-318s are porous cylinders that are installed around a tree. This deep root watering system allows water, air, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the root zone. They have been scientifically proven to help trees thrive.

Looking to improve the health and growth rate of your trees’ roots? Shop our deep root aeration products.

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7 Tips for How to Trim a Pine Tree Without Killing It

To trim a pine tree without killing it, perform pruning in spring. Use a pair of loppers to trim branches under 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Cut larger branches with a reciprocating saw fitted with a pruning blade. When trimming your pine tree, focus on removing diseased branches before removing unwanted branches. Where possible, thin out undesirable branches without cutting off the entire limb. Never cut off the top of a pine tree, as this results in poor growth and invites disease.

Table of Contents

7 Tricks of the Trade for Trimming a Pine Tree Safely

When trimming a pine tree, it’s essential to follow procedures that will result in a healthy, attractive tree that will thrive in your yard for years to come. Mistakes made when pruning a pine are irreversible and can result in the death of your tree. For best results, follow these tips:

Prune in Spring

The best time to trim a pine tree is just as winter transitions to spring. So, plan your pruning for late-February through March. If possible, do not prune your pine tree from late summer through winter. Pine growth slows starting in September and your tree will struggle to heal the wounds of pruning if it is trimmed after this point.

  • Prune between late February and late March.
  • Avoid pruning in late summer, fall, and winter.
  • As an exception, it’s advisable to remove dead or diseased branches at any time of year.

If your pine has dead, dying, or broken branches, it’s acceptable to prune these off at any time. It’s best to get rid of the dead wood as soon as possible, to prevent any disease from moving in.

Use the Proper Tools

The best tools for pruning a pine tree are a pair of loppers and a reciprocating saw fitted with a pruning blade. Loppers are best used on branches less than 2 inches (5 cm) thick. For large branches, use the reciprocating saw. This will quickly and safely trim branches.

  • Use loppers to trim branches less than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.
  • Use this reciprocating saw with a pruning blade to trim larger branches.
  • Clean all pruning tools thoroughly with rubbing alcohol after use, to prevent transmitting diseases from tree to tree.
  • Do not use a pruning seal after trimming branches. This compound is actually harmful to trees and interrupts the natural healing process.

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It’s good practice to clean your pruning tools with isopropyl alcohol when moving from one tree to another. This reduces the risk of bacterial infection spreading from a diseased tree to a healthy one.

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Remove Dead or Dying Branches

The first order of business when trimming a pine tree is to prune dead, dying, broken, and diseased branches. If a particular branch of your pine tree is turning brown and dropping needles excessively, it’s probably diseased and should be removed.

  • Prioritize trimming dead and diseased branches.
  • Search your tree for bare branches and ones with brown needles.
  • If two branches are rubbing against each other, remove one branch. Where one branch rubs against another, bark can be damaged. This invites disease and pests.
  • Removing dead branches reduces the risk of tree rot, invasive pest insects, and spreading tree diseases.

Dead, broken, and diseased branches represent a risk to your entire tree. If not removed, they can attract burrowing insects or invite disease that kills your entire pine from root to crown. Get rid of these branches first and foremost.

Cut Off Dangerous or Unwanted Branches

There are several valid reasons you may want to trim your pine tree. A branch that hangs over your roof or driveway can fall during a storm, causing damage to your home or vehicles. Overhanging branches can also scrape against shingles, clog gutters with pine needles, and provide a highway for raccoons and other animals to gain access to your roof. Feel free to trim these branches back.

  • Trim overhanging branches to prevent them from falling on your roof, tangling with power lines, dropping pine needles, and allowing animals to climb onto your roof.
  • Trim low branches to allow you to perform lawn maintenance more easily, or to create usable shade beneath a large pine.
  • It is safe to remove the lower one-third of branches from a pine without killing the tree.

Low branches on pine trees can make mowing and edging around the base of the tree difficult or impossible. It is safe to remove low branches on your pine tree, but keep in mind these branches won’t grow back. You can ruin the look of your tree by over-pruning.

Remove Suckers

Suckers are pine tree sprouts that come up from the roots of a mature tree. These small sprouts steal nutrients, water, and vigor from the main tree. They should be pruned.

  • Cut pine suckers off at soil level using pruning shears.
  • Do not use herbicide on suckers—any chemical that enters the sucker plant can travel back to the parent tree.

Although you may not see the connection between the sucker and mature pine tree, the suckers may have sprouted from the main tree’s roots. Because of this, it’s important not to treat suckers with systemic weed killers. These can travel through the tree roots back to the main pine and harm it.

Thin Out Branches Without Removing Them

Pine trees grow from the top and will not replace low limbs that are cut off. Because of this, it’s important to be careful when trimming your pine. Where possible, thin out or shorten undesirable healthy branches rather than removing them entirely.

  • Pine trees will not replace low limbs that are trimmed, so choose carefully when pruning.
  • Instead of removing an entire branch, thin it by removing half the branching twigs.
  • Do not remove the tip of the pine branch. This is where new growth comes from. A branch that has been shortened from the tip will die.

When trimming a pine tree, it’s best to start small and work from there. Remember, you can always go back and trim more, but your pine won’t replace low limbs once they are removed.

Never Cut the Top Off a Pine

“Topping” or cutting the upper section of a pine tree off completely should be avoided at all times. You may be tempted to do this to shorten a pine tree that you deem too tall, but this is an ill-advised solution. A pine tree that has had the top cut off will experience ragged growth and is extremely susceptible to rot and disease.

  • Never cut off the entire upper portion or “point” of a pine tree.
  • Cutting the top off a pine tree invites disease and causes poor growth.
  • If your pine is too tall and is interfering with your home or power lines, it’s best to consider transplant or removal.

A pine that is too tall is a good candidate for removal. As unfortunate as this may seem, it is preferable to an unsightly and diseased pine tree that has been “topped.”

How to Safely Trim a Pine Tree

To trim a pine tree without causing harm, it’s essential to follow these tips:

  • Prune your pine in early late winter through spring.
  • Use loppers and a reciprocating saw for tree pruning.
  • Prioritize the removal of dead and damaged branches.
  • Remove branches that overhang your roof, or prune branches at the base of the pine that interferes with lawn and garden maintenance.
  • Cut off pine tree suckers at soil level.
  • Consider thinning out branches rather than removing them entirely.
  • Never cut the entire top section off your pine in an attempt to shorten it.

With these guidelines, you can keep your pine tree healthy through pruning. By carefully pruning with the right tools at the right time, your pine will recover from pruning wounds and bounce back to full health in a single season.

how to properly form Scots pine in the garden so that it does not grow up, for splendor


How to form the crown of Scots pine

  • Time to trim
  • General rules
  • Step by Step
  • For the purpose of rejuvenation
  • Crown shaping
  • Pinching
  • Thinning
  • Pruning
  • Sanitary pruning
  • Care after haircut
  • Video: pine haircut

  • Coniferous trees
  • Pine
  • Pine cultivation
  • Pine planting and care
  • How to shape the crown of Scots pine


Scotch pine does not require special care in order to develop. It can grow even in poor or rocky soil and reach great heights. Pruning is an essential part of caring for conifers. For more information on how to properly form a crown and cut pine branches, read the material.

  • pinching the tips;
  • reduction of shoots of an adult plant.
  • The procedure is carried out for those parts that are not needed and can harm, creating excessive shading or conditions for the vital activity of pests. Periodic shearing is also necessary to prevent branches from coming into contact with power lines and other communications. If the procedure is neglected, the tree will not become more fluffy, green or decorative. It will look painful and unsightly. The main goal of the process is to preserve the natural beauty and health of the plant. Partial thinning of the crown helps to maintain a balance between the volume of branches and roots. A young pine can also be given a given shape, creating a beautiful decor for a summer cottage.

    Important! Before cutting the supposedly dry old branch, use a knife and scrape the bark. If there is dried plant tissue under it, then you can carefully cut it off.

    Proper pruning of conifers begins in the first days of February and is done until the beginning of March. Pruning pine trees after sap flow has begun is not recommended. The exception is dry branches, in which there are no juices. Due to circumcision in the summer, the bark is severely damaged, conditions are created for the penetration of fungal infections into the plant.

    General rules

    Do not be afraid of the huge size to which the tree can grow. In the country, you can plant dwarf and ornamental pines. When choosing seedlings, be sure to pay attention to the root system. It must be developed. The plant itself at the time of planting on the site should be no more than 5 years old. In the future, seedlings are accepted worse. When properly planted, pine trees take root well. After all, its main feature is unpretentiousness. She does not need careful care and intensive watering or fertilizing.

    With regard to pruning, please note the following rules:

    1. For the first time, a pine tree may need pruning at the time of planting: damaged branches or roots must be removed.
    2. The removal of young branches is delayed until they are large enough to understand how much they affect the shape and whether the grower needs to cut them.
    3. Most conifers, including pine, have one central leader. If there are several of them, then you need to leave only one, the strongest stem shoot.

    Step-by-step instructions

    May require:

    • wood saw is the easiest tool to use;
    • sharp pruning shears or pruner for branches smaller than 20 mm.

    Please note that the pruner comes in the form of scissors, it is designed for cutting live branches. And there is a secateurs, in which the lower base is made in the form of an anvil - it is used to remove dry branches. This variety works like an axe, so it cannot cleanly cut living branches. Scissor-shaped secateurs designed for cutting living branches!

    Basic cutting rules:

    1. Inspect the tree before work and mark targets: branch density, overall shape, size. This is important for both dwarf and tall species of pines, spruces and spruces.
    2. You need to work with a young tree, adults do not tolerate the removal of branches and get sick for a long time.
    3. The center stem cannot be removed. Otherwise, you get a bushy plant of indefinite shape. In addition, the lack of a central trunk will make the tree more prone to insect infestation and disease.
    4. If a branch is to be partially sawn off, be sure to leave a green shoot near the cut, otherwise it will die off completely.
    5. Unlike coniferous shrubs, pine does not have a “dead zone” (a sector in which needles die off due to density), so it needs less pruning. But the lower and lush inner branches can die off due to shading, in which case it is better to remove them.

    For rejuvenation purposes

    Pay attention to the technique of formation and growth of a pine branch. At the end, an ordinary kidney is formed, which gives the growth of the next year. If you do not prevent it from growing, then the branch will stretch, the needles will fall off along the length of the branch, and you will get a long shoot with landscaping at the end.

    Important! To trim, wear clothes that you don't mind throwing away. Pine resin, which will be on it after the procedure, is almost not washed off.

    Therefore, the gardener must:

    • shorten the length to stop the branch from growing and activate dormant buds;
    • cut old branches that no longer have buds that can be activated by pruning.

    This method of rejuvenating trees in a summer cottage is usually used once every three years.

    Rejuvenation guide:

    1. Trim side branches 10-15 cm.
    2. Leave the lower shoots longer than the top shoots to form a beautiful cone-shaped tree.

    Crown shaping

    Probably the first bonsai trees were natural formations, and people noticed this form and began to cultivate it in gardens. Styles are characterized by the presence of symmetry or asymmetry in form, curved lines, which should embody the impact of natural factors: wind, snow, etc.

    Wood shaping styles include:

    • catbooks ;
    • Kyoto form ;
    • tekan ;
    • sokan ;
    • nivaki and others.

    Pines and spruces are easy to cone because that is their natural shape. But their branches also form well into a pyramid, a tiered structure, or create the shape of a familiar bonsai. Haircut allows you to slow down growth and make the crown more lush and green. Bonsai is done when the seedling is not older than 7 years.

    In this case, each shoot must be cut separately, so as to obtain the desired shape. Formative pruning is carried out in early May, when young shoots have formed, but flowering has not yet begun. The next year, the operation is repeated, and then simply maintain the achieved shape as needed.

    Cutting diagram step by step:

    1. Imagine the general shape of a tree, better draw or take a photo you like as a basis.
    2. Examine your pine tree. Decide which branches to cut. Remove some, but not all, otherwise the tree will wither.
    3. The bonsai technique also involves bending the branches into a horizontal shape using guy lines and wire. It works well with young flexible branches.
    4. If the whole shoot needs to be chopped off, make an incision into the ring to induce a resin that will seal the wound.
    5. To cut a pine tree into a beautiful spherical shape, you need to cut the young growths that have appeared to different lengths - from 2 to 8 cm. Low pruning leads to the appearance of highly branched small branches that form a dense ball, which gives the branches fluffiness.
    6. To improve the decorative properties, it is also practiced to pluck part of the needles. This will improve air exchange in the crown and allow the formation of decorative groups of elements.
    7. Pay attention to the natural shape of the tree. Black pine (Austrian) is wide-conical when young and umbrella-shaped when mature. Weymouth pine, or eastern white pine, is narrow-pyramidal. Trimming in such a way as to get a ball out of the cone is not welcomed by bonsai specialists.

    If you intend to form a nivaki style pine, then the algorithm will be as follows:

    1. Sanitary pruning, removing dry, lightly needled and thin branches. For this, the end of autumn or the beginning of winter is suitable, when the air temperature drops to + 5 ° С.
    2. Nivaki is made according to the principle of a triangle: each individual branch should have the shape and location of the needles, close to a triangle, directed with one point upwards. Leave the formative pruning in the middle of summer.
    3. It will not be possible to immediately give the desired shape. It is unacceptable to cut more than 30% of the green mass of the plant, so select and refine those branches that can be given it, and next year you will form the next group.
    4. Shape needs to be looked after. To do this, pinch those shoots that violate it.

    After the tree has been shaped, work begins with growth. In some places it needs to be slowed down, and in others it needs to be strengthened. Pay attention to the branch growth technique. First, a new shoot (candle) appears from the kidney, then it lengthens, and after that they go into the growth of the needle. They will grow until mid-summer. In the interval between the appearance of new needles and their complete formation by mid-July, pinching is carried out. Someone does it with nails, someone with scissors.

    Both old and new needles are inspected for fit. When plucking, follow the basic rule: the more needles, the more vigorous the growth of the branch. If you need it to continue to develop, leave more needles. At the end of the shoot that you pinch, a whorl of new small shoots with shortened needles forms in the next season. Thus, more lush sections of the branch are obtained. Fewer needles are left on the upper shoots and more on the weak, lower and inner shoots. They also prefer not to touch the inner branches at all in order to preserve their fluffiness. Pinching enhances air circulation in the crown, helps to distribute the energy of growth throughout the tree, directing it to the right areas.


    Thinning is the complete or partial removal of branches. It is carried out in order to remove those branches that do not fit into the overall configuration. Thinning also prevents thickening. Branches that can rub against each other are a potential problem. Mechanical damage creates conditions for wood infection with fungi. Branches greater than 90° can break in strong winds and should also be removed. Thinning is carried out along with sanitary pruning as necessary.


    Conifers grow in any, including unfavorable climate, so it seems that pruning is not necessary for them. But without it, the tree will look slightly pubescent, with long branches and sparse needles.

    You will be interested to know how to trim a pine tree in the niwaki style.

    When planning pruning, set clear goals for yourself: why you need to do it, and what should be the result. Unlike hardwoods, pruning conifers does not enhance their growth. It is justified only in those cases when it comes to its sanitary variety or shaping the tree.

    Sanitary trim

    Sanitary pruning is designed to rejuvenate the plant. It consists of removing the lower branches of the pine tree. Gardeners also cut all dry, damaged and diseased shoots. This should be done every time a problem occurs and needs to be fixed safely. Pruning keeps the tree healthy and encourages dormant buds to grow more vigorously.

    Important! Rejuvenation pruning every 3 years. Thanks to this procedure, the tree will look great and take up much less space.

    Regardless of the reason for pruning, the methods for pruning branches are the same. You can remove the whole dry branch, and also shorten or pinch part of the shoot. But, as a rule, pinching or shaping does not apply to sanitary pruning.

    After-shaving care

    Pruning is stressful for pine. At the site of the cuts, an open space is formed through which pathogens enter the plant. The released resin will quickly tighten them. But this takes some time. To speed up the process, gardeners cover open wounds with latex paint to prevent infection. Before applying, make sure the paint is non-toxic and can be used on trees. Water thoroughly immediately after pruning.

    We advise you to find out which plants can grow under pines.

    If the soil is too compact, loosen it to allow oxygen to reach the roots. These measures will help the pine to recover. Pruning is not a very frequent procedure, but the benefits of it for the tree are obvious. Especially if it's an old pine. To keep your trees beautiful and lush all the time, try not to run them down and keep them in optimal shape.

    Video: pine shearing

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    Formation of large-sized conifers - correct pruning. When and how to prune conifers? Photo — Botanichka

    Today, in private gardens, you can see many huge adult coniferous trees that rise above the houses, casting a shadow on all nearby areas. At the same time, most conifers respond positively to formation - pruning, which allows you to keep the tree in check without harm to its health and appearance. If you have decided to plant a coniferous tree in a small garden that reaches the height of a large-sized tree, then you must immediately start “educating” the seedling, and not wait until the forest giant begins to annoy all the neighbors.

    Formation of coniferous large-sized trees - correct pruning

    In the forests of the middle zone, one species of pine most often lives - Scots pine ( Pinus sylvestris ), and the only species of spruce - European spruce, or European ( Picea327 ). Spruce and pine have a different growth pattern, so the approach to them will be slightly different.

    Spruce formation

    The older and taller the spruce gets, the faster its growth rate. In a young tree, growth can be as little as five centimeters per year, while an adult spruce will annually drive growth up to one meter long.

    In forty years, an ordinary forest spruce will reach the height of a three-story house, but a well-formed tree can remain a small and pretty cone for decades. Therefore, it is important to start regular tree trimming from a very young age.

    Based on the fact that the natural shape of spruce is a regular cone, the biology of this tree contains the most rapid growth of the central shoot-leader - the “crown”. If you remove the leader, this will cause a whole bunch of young branches to grow in place of the remote branch, and the crown will become wider. Nevertheless, the Christmas tree will not give up trying to maintain its usual pyramidal shape and will regularly put forward a new leader from among the young shoots.

    Therefore, even with regular pruning, you should not be afraid that the spruce will no longer look like a typical conical Christmas tree. The formation will affect the appearance of the tree only on the positive side - the crown will become thicker and fluffier, the branches are shorter, and growth is not so intense.

    To further reduce the tree's tendency to grow taller, you can choose a slow-growing lateral branch to be the leader. To do this, a suitable branch is fixed in a vertical position with a wire or tied to a support. Thus, the growth of the tree in height will not be as fast.

    Read also our material Christmas tree in the garden - the best conifers, species and varieties.

    When and how to prune spruce?

    Partial pinching of the main crown can be done even in autumn and early spring. To do this, they find the largest bud on the spruce paw, which is responsible for the growth of the branch in length, and carefully break it out or cut it with a pruner. This simple method will help prevent excessive growth of the tree in width, while the spruce legs themselves become fluffier due to increased branching from the lateral buds.

    A more thorough formation is carried out in late May or early June (depending on weather conditions). In this case, the entire young growth is pinched or cut off (it is easy to distinguish it by soft needles and a lighter color), which is cut off on average by 1/3 or 2/3.

    To keep the Christmas tree in shape, such a haircut is carried out annually once a season. While the seedling is small, it is better to do the procedure manually, and later it is more convenient to cut it with garden shears.

    In some years, spruces have to be cut several times a season, then an additional haircut is carried out at the end of summer. At the same time, it is important not to delay the timing of the haircut, and not to prune too late so that the cuts have time to drag on before the onset of winter.

    Of course, in nurseries you can find dwarf spruce varieties that do not require pruning and form a beautiful fluffy crown themselves ( "Wills Zwerg" , "Konika" and others). But nevertheless, species spruce is the most adapted to the local climate, it is highly resistant to adverse conditions, such as severe frosts and sunburn in early spring. In addition, on a “wild” Christmas tree, you can hone your curly haircut skills without fear, because its cost in the nursery is not comparable to the price of a varietal specimen.

    In addition to the classic pyramidal shape, with the help of garden shears, spruce can be turned into a ball on a long stem, and into a multi-tiered pyramid, and into a dense massive column.

    Blue Spruce (Prickly) (Picea pungens) also lends itself well to shearing, which is done in the same time and according to the same principles as pruning Norway spruce.

    It is too early to prune the spruce on the left, the shoots have just come out of the buds. On the right, the young legs are fully unfolded, can be cut off. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

    Making a spruce fence

    Norway spruce can even be used to make a durable living fence. Such a fence will always look solid and solemn, protect the site from the wind and prying eyes.

    Four-year-old seedlings are suitable for planting a Norway spruce hedge, which are planted at a distance of 50 centimeters to 1 meter. In the year of planting, the seedlings are allowed to take root in a new place, so the formation of the hedge begins from the second year. The entire young growth of spruces is removed by approximately 1/3, in the future, as growth accelerates, 2/3 of the length of young shoots can be cut.

    A similar procedure is carried out annually in June-July, and, if necessary, again at the end of summer. When the seedlings reach the desired height, they cut off the central shoot, periodically controlling the height of the hedge. To make the top of the live fence even, it is advisable to stretch the cord, which will allow you to adhere to the specified height during trimming. For ease of cutting, it is recommended not to allow spruce to grow to a height above 1.5 meters.

    Spruce fences are usually made in a rectangular shape like a real wall. However, despite the relative shade tolerance of this breed, it is desirable to cut the hedge in the form of a cone so that the upper part of the plants does not interfere with the light enough to fall on the lower branches, in order to avoid falling off the needles.

    Spruce hedges do not grow quickly, and the first results of the work can be seen after at least 5-10 years (depending on the age of the seedlings). In general, a spruce fence is reliable and unpretentious, but the formation process cannot be stopped for even a single year, otherwise nature will quickly take its toll, turning a neat fence into a real spruce forest.

    Without pruning, over time, a small pine tree near a country house became a huge pine tree above a small house. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

    Pine formation

    Pine is one of the most intensively growing coniferous trees, and mature grows more than one meter per year. An adult Scots pine tree at maturity reaches a height of 40 meters or more.

    With age, the pine crown becomes more and more sparse, the lower branches fall off from lack of light, and the once fluffy "herringbone" more and more takes on the appearance of a ship's pine towering above the garden. However, even such a massive tree can be tamed if you start timely pruning.

    Read also our material Spectacular pines on the site - planting, formation, types and varieties.

    When and how to prune pine trees?

    Pruning is recommended during the active emergence of young shoots. In this case, the trees will have enough time to have time to lay buds for growth next year.

    During the growth period in spring (in May), characteristic young growths appear on the pine branches - the so-called "candles". After a while, such "candles" begin to lengthen, and young needles gradually develop on them. It is during this period that pinching should be carried out, shortening the growth by half or more of the length of the candle.

    Take care not to damage the young needles, as they can be stored for several years, and when damaged, they turn yellow and spoil the appearance of the tree. In this regard, the best way to prune a young pine is to pinch the buds by hand. In the next season, a bunch of young shoots is formed in place of the removed apical bud, with which it is necessary to repeat a similar operation.

    In this way, every year the tree will branch more and more, and its crown will become really fluffy and “stuffed”. To contain the leader shoot in pine, an operation similar to the above described method for spruce is carried out. That is, they independently assign a lateral weak-growing shoot to the role of the crown, giving it a vertical direction with the help of a tire.

    Best of all, pine gives new buds of renewal on fresh growth in those places where there are young needles. Therefore, it is very important not to miss the pruning time, which lasts until the end of May. Otherwise, pruning will not lead to the formation of new branches.

    Pine candles are not yet big enough for pruning. © Lyudmila Svetlitskaya Pine shoots with the beginnings of needles, it's time to cut. © Lyudmila Svetlitskaya

    When and how to prune juniper?

    Sometimes in the gardens you can also find species common juniper ( Juniperus communis ), which can also reach a decent height, unlike its varietal counterparts (up to 10 meters).

    Some other tall junipers, such as the many varieties of rock juniper ( Juniperus scopulorum ) may also need shaping pruning. This tree species tolerates formative pruning very easily, however, it is important to take into account some features here.

    Read more about the types and varieties of juniper in the article Junipers in the garden - types and uses.

    To help junipers form a denser and narrower crown, slightly limit their spread in width. For these purposes, hedge shears or pruners are ideal. This conifer responds to pruning with a burst of growth. Subsequently, new shoots fill in possible voids, and the tree looks slimmer and fluffier.

    The most suitable time for shearing junipers is the period when junipers are not actively growing: in autumn - from September to October, or in spring - from April to May. But during the period of active shoot growth - June and July - it is better not to touch the trees, since at this time the maximum sap flow occurs, as a result of which pruning can lead to excessive release of juice from the cuts and weakening of the plants.

    When planning juniper pruning, weather conditions are also important to consider. So, in extreme heat, it is also better not to cut these trees, because the high temperature will contribute to the rapid evaporation of juices, which can cause browning of the tips and further death of the cut shoots. At low temperatures, combined with high humidity, cut wounds do not heal well and become a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria and sometimes harmful insects.

    Similar rules will be valid not only for junipers, but also for other conifers with flat needles - thuja, yew, cypress, etc.

    Unlike other types of juniper, Cossack juniper ( Juniperus sabina ) belongs to poisonous plants. When cutting bushes of this species, care must be taken, be sure to use personal protective equipment that does not allow contact with poisonous juice. Essential oils of Cossack juniper, when in contact with the skin, lead to burns.

    Fir is characterized by the formation of a bald crown, which overgrows with time. © Ludmila Svetlitskaya

    Pruning fir

    Species fir (Korean, Wicha, balsam, plain, etc.) are fairly tall trees. Adults reach 10 meters and above. Therefore, they will also require regular pruning to contain growth.

    In terms of growth, fir differs from spruce mainly in that it often puts forward a long, bald crown, and many gardeners often have a desire to pinch a “stick” to make the tree more fluffy.

    But, if the fir has not yet reached the height you planned, you should not do this, because the nature of this breed is such that over time, the fir fills the void at the crown on its own, and a new fluffy growth gradually grows from the buds.

    Pinching the leader will lead to the formation of many new tops, and the tree will temporarily lose its classic conical shape. To restrain the growth of fir in height, it is better to carry out the same operation that is recommended for spruce and pine (described above).

    As for the pinching of side branches, this procedure is carried out in autumn or in spring before bud break.

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