What Are the Best Tips for Pruning Spruce Trees?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 31 May 2018
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In most cases, spruce trees of nearly any variety are pretty low-maintenance, although some cutting may be required depending on the circumstances. One of the best tips for pruning spruce trees is to use specific tools for different-sized branches in order to maintain control over the cutting process. Ideally, you will want to prune right after planting spruce trees, as this will typically be all that the tree needs for the duration of its life. Two of the most important tips for this project are to never cut into the trunk unless the tree has more than one and to never cut past where the needles are growing on a branch unless absolutely necessary. When pruning spruce trees that are diseased, use a sanitizing solution and take care when removing branches or limbs.

Spruce trees generally do not require a lot of cutting. Too much can actually damage the tree, so you want to use tools that provide you with a large amount of control when pruning spruce trees. For smaller branches, especially those on young trees, very sharp hand shears are typically best, as they cut in precise locations. When cutting larger limbs or a trunk, a hand saw is usually ideal.


Generally, pruning should take place directly after the tree is planted or when it is still young, as this will lay the groundwork for an overall pleasant and healthy shape in the future. When pruning at this stage, take a less-is-more approach. Only cut branches that are contributing to an overly full area that may hinder growth or branches that are crossing over one another to maintain the tree’s shape.

It is extremely important that you never cut into the trunks when you are pruning spruce trees, as this can permanently damage the tree and hinder its growth. In almost every case, you should only cut back to right before the branch collar, which is the area that bumps out from the trunk itself, if removing a limb. The only time that you should cut into a trunk is if the tree has managed to develop more than one; in this case, leave the healthier trunk and remove the other.

For regular pruning that does not involve removing an entire limb, it is important to not cut into a branch past where it is growing needles when pruning spruce trees. This can hinder needle production later and potentially damage an otherwise healthy branch. Instead, cut about halfway into where the needles are growing to encourage the development of new branches.

As with any pruning, special care needs to be taken when cutting a diseased tree. If a tree is only infected in one area, you can likely safe it by removing the infected limbs or branches. Between each cut, sanitize your shears or saw with a garden sanitizing solution, and do everything possible to ensure that the diseased branches do not touch the healthy ones, especially at the cut site, as this can infect other parts of the tree.



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