How to Trim a Red Cedar Tree


The western red cedar is a cypress, common in the Pacific Northwest, that can grow to a maximum height of 150 feet. A slow grower, its typical height after 20 years is 40 feet. The eastern red cedar, on the other hand, is a member of the juniper family that typically is a lot smaller than the western red cedar. According to the North Dakota State University website, the largest eastern red cedar in North Dakota stands 51 feet tall. Both red cedars are hardy evergreens and popular landscape plants used in hedges and windbreaks. They require very little care; trimming is generally done only to remove dead or damaged branches, maintain its shape or limit its size.

Step 1

Comb the red cedar tree, looking for dead or diseased branches. Put on garden gloves and, with pruning shears, cut the dead or diseased branches off at the very base, where they meet the trunk or stem.

Step 2

Trim off any spindly growth so it won't sap nutrients from the main branches.

Step 3

Trim off branches that cross or touch each other. According to the University of Maine Extension website, branches that cross could develop bark damage, which in turn could lead to infection.

Step 4

Trim the tree for shape, nipping off branches just after a node.

Step 5

Remove any branches that are too close to power lines.

Step 6

Cut off any large, weak branches that might fall during a storm, potentially injuring people standing or walking nearby or damaging property.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear garden gloves at all times to protect your hands from damage. Wood can be rough and cause cuts and abrasions.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Garden gloves


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Profiles: Western Red Cedar
  • University of Maine Extension: Pruning Woody Landscape Plants
  • Great Plains Nature Center: Eastern Red Cedar

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University: Eastern Red Cedar
Keywords: trimming Red Cedar, Red Cedar care, pruning cypresses and junipers

About this Author

Thomas K. Arnold is the publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular entertainment contributor to various publications, including "USA Today," "The Hollywood Reporter" and "San Diego Magazine." He has written travel stories for "San Diego Magazine," the "San Diego Union" and the Copley News Service. Arnold graduated from San Diego State University.