How to Prune Evergreens


Evergreen trees are a lovely addition to a landscape because of their deep green color that contrasts so well with vibrant colors of spring, summer and fall blooms, as well as the texture of its branches. The problem with evergreens is that they can grow too tall or the tree can be too sparse, leaving you with "thin" areas where you wish branches were. The solution to these problems is keeping the evergreen trees properly pruned so it doesn't grow beyond your desired height; and fortunately, cutting the top of the tree fills out the bottom, making it denser. Once you know how to keep your evergreen trees and shrubs properly pruned, you'll be in control of keeping them the shape you have imagined and designed them to be.

Shaping evergreen trees

Step 1

Stand back from the tree and squint your eyes to block out other trees, shrubs or flowers that might be distracting. Look at the height and width of the tree and picture how you would change it. Use the yarn to show where you want the top to be and the desired general shape of the outcome.

Step 2

Use whichever tool you need to trim off the top of the tree. If you are cutting a large truck, use the chain saw and cut several inches below where you want the top of the tree to be so that the trunk doesn't show.

Step 3

Use whatever type of cutter works best for trimming the branches of the tree to bring it to the width and shape of the desired tree. Make sure you remove all branches as you cut them so that you are seeing the attached branches when you trim.

Step 4

Stand back again and look at the tree. It is helpful if you have someone who can take directions from you on what to cut and how much to cut to get your desired shape. Walk 10 feet to your left and look at the tree again and make any changes. Repeat until you have gone completely around the tree to make sure it is evenly pruned. Remove all cut branches away from the bottom of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand clippers
  • Branch cutters
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Chain saw
  • White yarn


  • University of New Hampshire
Keywords: cutting back evergreens, shaping evergreen, trimming evergreen

About this Author

Linda Batey has been working as a freelance writer for more than two years, specializing in travel, gardening, and herbal and home remedies. She has been published in "Gardening Inspirations" magazine and various online sites. Batey holds an associate degree in paralegal from Beal College. She also is knowledgeable is