How to Trim a Norway Spruce


Norway spruce (Picea abies) can reach 80 to 100 feet in height with a spread of 25 feet. Although large trees should be pruned by professionals, gardeners can trim young Norway spruce trees, using a ladder to access high branches. Pruning promotes tree health and keeps the Norway spruce in its natural pyramid shape. Prune annually in the later winter to early spring, whenever frost danger passes for your region. Remove dead and damaged wood any time of the year (except winter), whenever you notice it.

Step 1

Note dead, diseased or damaged limbs on your Norway spruce, since these need to be removed to keep the tree healthy. Dead limbs may have brown or no foliage and will not move in the wind as healthy limbs do. Diseased or damaged limbs may have galls, discoloration or appear dead at the tip.

Step 2

Prepare a sanitizing solution in a bucket by combining one part bleach and 10 parts water. Place your pruning tools in this solution.

Step 3

Clip off dead, damaged and diseased wood at its base. If only the tip is damaged, prune back to a healthy Y-intersection. In between each cut, disinfect the pruners by immersing them in your sanitizing solution.

Step 4

Head back the tips of long branches, cutting them back to your desired length. Cut back to a side branch, to a needle whorl or to a point where needles shoot off the stem. Work one branch at a time and maintain the natural shape of your spruce tree.

Step 5

Clip off any wayward branches, such as those that grow downward or those that crisscross other branches. This wood detracts from the appearance of the Norway spruce and may damage other wood if left on the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Hand saw


  • United States Forest Service: Norway Spruce
  • University of Rhode Island: Pruning Evergreens
Keywords: trim Norway spruce, prune Norway spruce, Norway spruce care

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.