Pruning Evergreens

by April Reinhardt
(last updated December 18, 2013)

Usually, when we think of evergreens, conifers such as pine, cedar, and spruce trees and bushes come to mind. But did you know that hemlock, holly, rainforest trees, and Eucalypts are also evergreens? All of those plant species are evergreens, meaning that they retain their leaves all year long, in all climates. Yet, evergreens require different pruning methods, depending upon the variety. A pruning method used on a conifer might permanently disfigure a Eucalypts, and vice versa. Before you attempt to prune your evergreens, check with your local Cooperative Extension office for help in determining the best pruning method. Here are some pruning tips appropriate for most evergreen plants:

  • While it may be tempting to use power hedge clippers on your evergreens, scissor action hand shears are recommended. If you have tall evergreens, buy a pole pruner at your local home improvement store.
  • Remove any dead, injured, or diseased wood by pulling apart the branches. Cut away all branches with visible wounds or discoloration, and completely trim away brown foliage.
  • Thin the plants by removing a few middle branches, until you can see daylight through the plant. Thinning your evergreens will help air and light to circulate through the plant, improving current growth, and encouraging new growth.
  • A pruning method known as "heading" should be used on evergreens wherein you cut a branch to just above a bud or other branch. Secondary branches growing off a main branch should be opposing. That is, they should alternate each side up the shaft of the main branch. Cut away all secondary branches not opposing evenly.
  • If you've trimmed your evergreens so many times that you have a massive network of tiny branches growing from a single, secondary branch, cut those tiny branches away entirely.
  • Reach deep into the middle of the evergreen and cut away all crossing growth. Doing so will force new growth, making the plant bushy and full.
  • If you have evergreen shrubs that seem to have grown out of control, trim them back by pruning last year's growth by one half, or more.

Always prune your evergreens in the early spring, making sure that you rake under the plants to remove the trimmings and dead branches and leaves. If you have flowers growing under your evergreens, wait until they have bloomed before pruning your evergreens. After pruning, mulch your evergreens to at least four inches. Mulch helps plants retain water, prevents weed growth, and encourages root health.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


Cleaning Silk Ties

While some people say you should never use water to clean a silk tie, you can safely wash silk with mild detergents. The key ...

Discover More

Growing Corn

Not only a simple crop to grow, corn is a versatile food, lending itself to many cooking methods, and easily preserved. The ...

Discover More

Using Sod to Patch Lawn Spots

Use sod from your existing lawn as patches. Perhaps you have an out-of-sight portion of lawn from which you can cut sod to ...

Discover More

Pruning Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees can provide some much needed, and low maintenance, greenery to your landscape. That being said, even ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 - 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube


FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

Links and Sharing
  • Ask a Question
  • Make a Comment
  • Free Printable Forms
  • Free Calendars
  • Share