How to Prune Atlantic White Cedar


Atlantic white cedar, known botanically as chamaecyparis thyoides, is an evergreen conifer in the cypress family. It is a tree with a straight scaled bark trunk and reaches up to 85 feet in height at maturity. It thrives in wet, swampy soils and fresh water stream beds and bogs and tends to naturalize in large stands with the trees growing closely together. Atlantic white cedar has a natural cone-shaped canopy that requires little pruning save removal of disease or damage, and very rarely, some interior thinning.

Step 1

Inspect your Atlantic white cedar trees regularly, several times each year, looking for damaged, dying or diseased branches. Cut away any problem areas that you see down to healthy wood with a pole saw or loppers; pull the cuttings from the canopy and discard.

Step 2

Make all cuts using clean tools, placing each cut flush and parallel with the parent branch without cutting into the branch collar, to help wounds heal well. Cut each branch back to the point where the branch is facing the direction in which you wish to see new growth.

Step 3

Conduct thinning pruning of the cedar's interior canopy once every 3 to 5 years in the late winter or early spring before new spring growth is visible. Remove congested interior branching to allow good sunlight penetration and air flow into the center and lower branches of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs
  • Long handled loppers
  • Pole saw


  • Purdue University
  • Georgian Court University
  • USDA Plant Database Profile
Keywords: Atlantic white cedar tree, chamaecyparis thyoides, prune cut back shape trim

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.