How to Prune a Birch Tree Like an Umbrella


Prune a birch tree like an umbrella to create a professional, clean look. The umbrella method results in a tree canopy that is rounded on top, which is natural, with an evenly cut straight bottom, which you create. It ends up looking like an open umbrella. This technique has the most profound impact when done to a birch with a weeping growth pattern such as European birch or river birch.

Step 1

Decide where you want the bottom of the tree canopy to be. The height will depend on whether you need clearance for a sidewalk, pedestrians or other plantings. This will guide where the widest part of the umbrella shape will be.

Step 2

Wrap colored masking tape around the trunk to indicate the bottom of the umbrella shape. Use the level to make sure the tape is in a straight line. You will follow this guide as you prune the birch tree.

Step 3

Cut the ends of the birch tree's branches with the shears, using the masking tape as your reference point. Cut the branches closest to the tree first and work your way up. Keep the shears parallel to the ground to ensure even cuts.

Step 4

Walk around the birch tree as you cut to look at it from all sides. Stand back at least 20 feet occasionally to see your progress. If you're not happy with the cut, more the tape up higher and trim off even more. As long as each limb stops at the same length, you will accomplish the umbrella appearance.

Step 5

Pull off the masking tape gently so you don't damage the delicate birch tree bark. Prune the bottom of the tree canopy annually to keep it in an umbrella shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears (electric or manual)
  • Gloves
  • Colored masking tape
  • Level


  • USDA: How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Trees
Keywords: prune a birch tree, birch tree, prune birch tree like an umbrella

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.