How to Prune Needle Leaf Evergreens Around the House


Although mature needle leaf evergreens require little to no pruning, young and diseased evergreens need yearly pruning to maintain their shape, health and proper growth. Pruning a mature evergreen every two or three years is usually sufficient to remove any tangled, diseased or dead branches. Prune your needle leaf evergreens in the early spring so that they have the growing season to bounce back from the pruning and produce new growth.

Step 1

Prune the candle-shaped new growth on your needle leaf evergreens back to about half their length. Prune back the new growth in early spring to help maintain an even shape and better conceal the pruning cuts.

Step 2

Cut away all diseased, dead, dying or weak limbs. This will improve both the look and health of the evergreen.

Step 3

Prune back all limbs that are growing toward the trunk, overlapping other limbs, or are crowded or tangled. Cut these branches back to the trunk to prevent them from stressing the nearby healthy limbs and to allow for more air and sunlight to reach all parts of the evergreen.

Step 4

Disinfect your pruning tools before and after pruning, especially when pruning diseased wood. Dip your pruning tools in a solution of three parts denatured alcohol to one part water.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never cut away more than 1/3 of the evergreen in a single pruning. Doing so can severely weaken or even kill the evergreen.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or loppers
  • Denatured alcohol


  • Courtney Capstack: A Brief Guide to Pruning Evergreen Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
  • Blooming Garden: Pruning Shrubs and Evergreens
Keywords: prune evergreens, needle leaf evergreens, conifer evergreen care

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.