How to Prune Red Spruce


The red spruce is an evergreen and a member of the pine family. It is hardy from zones 2 to 5. A mature red spruce can attain a height of 60 to 70 feet and a trunk diameter of 1 to 2 feet. The red spruce will require pruning to remove diseased or damaged branches, to maintain size (width) within your landscape design, and to provide clearance underneath the tree. The pruning tools you use will be determined by the size of the branch, its location, and your reason for pruning (new growth pruning or maintenance pruning).

Step 1

Cut off any damaged or diseased branch or branches as soon as possible. Make a clean cut, and don't leave a stub. A clean cut will insure that the wound will heal properly. This should be done when the damage occurs;the tree does not have to be in its dormant state.

Step 2

Use your hand shears to head back new growth. Cut just in front of a lateral bud. This procedure will aid in maintaining the width of the tree and will also help to produce a denser tree. This should be done in early spring.

Step 3

Determine if you want to cut off any lower branches to provide clearance underneath the tree. This is a personal preference. Cutting off lower branches allows for easier clean up underneath the tree and also allows you to plant ground cover or grass under the tree. This procedure should be done either in early spring or late fall/early winter when the tree is dormant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't prune branches that are close to electrical wires because this is extremely dangerous and should be done by the electric company.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • John's Nursery, Inc.
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • North Carolina State University
Keywords: red spruce, pruning to remove diseased or damaged branches, pruning

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.