How to Prune Engelmann Spruce


Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) is a large evergreen that averages 90 feet tall and 30 inches in diameter. The crown has a pyramid shape, with limbs stretching down to the ground. The branches are in layers, or whorls. The tree grows slowly, taking about 150 years to reach full maturity. It grows best in deep, rich soil. Engelmann spruce are most commonly found in the western United States, where there are long, hard winters and short, cool summers. Prune Engelmann spruce to improve the tree's shape, make it healthier, cut down on disease and improve sunlight and air penetration.

Step 1

Prune Engelmann spruce during the dormant season, which is late winter or early spring. This is right before the buds break.

Step 2

Cut branches that are crossing or rubbing each other through the center of the Engelmann spruce tree. They are blocking sunlight from getting to lower limbs. Cut them at their bases.

Step 3

Remove dead, diseased or weak branches. These will eventually fall off anyway, but in the meantime, they may encourage the spreading of disease. Cut them off at the collar, which is the thick section at the base of the limb. Make the cut on healthy wood if possible.

Step 4

Keep branches that have strong connections to other branches in the shape of the letter U. Trim off those that have narrower-angled connections in a V-shape.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use a wound dressing on cuts. Avoid removing more than one-third of the live foliage in one season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Ladder
  • Gloves


  • Utah State University: Englemann Spruce
  • Forest Resources Extension: Pruning Evergreen Branches
Keywords: englemann spruce, prune engelmann spruce, cut branches

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.