Spruce Tree Pruning Tips

A Spruce tree keeps its needles lush and green all year long. While taking care of this tree is relatively simple, here are some tips for properly pruning a spruce tree.

Tip # 1 – Ensure Proper Drainage

Make sure there is proper drainage in the area around the tree. One thing that causes the limbs and needles of the spruce to discolor is standing water. Don’t let piles of needles or dead branches accumulate in the area around the tree as this can become a breeding ground for pests and funguses.  

Tip # 2 – Prune the Undesirable Elements

Remove any diseased, damaged or dead limbs from the tree. These need to be cut back all the way to the truck and removed immediately.  If there the branch is merely discolored and has no sign of fungus or disease then leave them alone. A dead branch will be completely without needles or anything budding from it.

Tip # 3 – Maintain the Right Shape

Look at the shape of the tree. Spruces are usually kept with a sharp looking outline in a Christmas tree shape. Decide while examining the tree from the ground which limbs to either prune back or trim off completely. Do not allow overzealousness to overtake so that you get carried away in the midst of the job and start taking more limbs. This will leave you with a bald looking tree and some deep regrets.

Tip # 4 – Trimming Correctly with the Pruning Shears

Using the pruning shears trim just the ends of the branches back to their joint point. This will reduce the size of the tree without taking too many limbs all the way back to the trunk.  If you live in a warmer weather area then leave as much as the top portion of the tree as possible to allow the root system more protection from the sun. In colder climates where there might be snow and wind leave the lower branches giving the tree some added strength.

Tip # 5 – Cleaning Up

Be very careful to clean up the area when you are done since the debris will attract fungus, mold and insects.  Dead branches left lying on the ground are the dinner bell for wood and pulp eating ants, for example as well as termites. There is also fungus that thrives on decaying matter.  

Trimming the spruce should be on a yearly cycle. Maintaining the area around the tree should be done every few weeks to keep the pest way. If enemies—like the Spruce Spider Mite, which turns the needles brown—can indicate that the tree needs immediately attention.  It might be necessary in such circumstances to go push up a cycle of trimming in order to rid the tree of this type of invasion. If you suspect spider mites then look at the branches carefully with a magnifying glass.  

The spruce is definitely worth a few hours of dedication every few months as it remains beautiful all year long.