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What You Need To Know When Pruning Evergreens

What You Need To Know When Pruning Evergreens

Every garden should have evergreen bushes and trees. They add color all year, especially in winter when other plants lose their leaves. Evergreens look good without much pruning, but sometimes you need to trim them. To prune them without compromising their appearance, it’s important to know the basics.

Why You Should Prune Your Evergreens

Pruning serves various purposes, including controlling size, directing growth, maintaining plant health, and preserving the evergreen's shape. Like most plants, removing dead, broken, or injured branches is crucial to prevent disease spread or pest invasion. Minimal or selective pruning can result in a denser, more appealing evergreen. However, it's important not to trim too much or at the wrong time, which can significantly impact the plant's appearance.

When Should You Prune Your Evergreens

There are four options for pruning evergreens: during dormancy in early spring, at the beginning of a major growth period, during semi-dormancy, or in mid-summer. Among these, early spring is optimal because new growth can easily fill in the removed wood. Dead, broken, or diseased wood can be pruned at any time of the year.

Preparing for Pruning

Before you start, make you have the right garden clippers and trimmers in good condition. Evergreen branches vary in size, so you can use a garden pruner, tree loppers, hedge shears, or a pruning saw.

Pruning Depending on Type

Before pruning, identify the type of evergreen in your garden. Generally, evergreens are categorized based on their branches as whorled or randomly branched.

Whorl-branched evergreens form a circular pattern around the growing tip, while evergreens with branches that are non-whorled or random regrow from old wood.

Whorl-branched Evergreens (e.g., Pines, Firs, Spruces):

  • Pines should be pruned in spring by pinching out 1/3 to 1/2 of the candle or new shoots. For older pines, use loppers to remove entire branches.

  • Spruce trees require minimal pruning but can be trimmed in late spring for a formal shape.

  • Prune first similarly to spruce trees.

Random-branched Evergreens (e.g., Arborvitae, Junipers, Yews)

  • Arborvitaes can handle heavy pruning before new growth in early spring. Precision is crucial, so use quality bypass pruners for light pruning between branches.

  • Use hand pruners for junipers, lightly pruning side branches in early spring to avoid pruning back to the center's dead zone.

  • Yews, slow-growing and long-lived, can be pruned in late winter or early spring to maintain size, followed by mid-June pruning.

To prune successfully, remember to identify what species of evergreen you are planning to prune and prepare the right tools. Make sure your pair of pruning shears or loppers are sharp, easy to handle, and reliable for trimming different species of evergreens. Happy pruning!