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How to Prune & Trim Leyland Cypress

The Leyland cypress tree (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is popular due to its rapid growth rate. The tree reaches a mature of height of 100 feet and a width of 20 feet, growing an average of 2 to 3 feet a year. Drought-tolerant and evergreen features make the Leyland cypress tree a well-liked privacy hedge or property border for U.S. hardiness zones 6 through 10. Proper pruning and trimming prevent the tree from overgrowing in the desired location. Improper pruning and trimming stunts growth and kills sections of the trees.

Place a drop cloth beneath the Leyland cypress to catch tree cuttings. Put on a pair of gardening gloves to protect hands from the needle tips while pruning and trimming.

Remove the top quarter of the Leyland cypress tree with pruning shears when pruning the tree back to a hedge. Remove only several inches of the top branches when trimming for maintenance. Cut each branch at a 45 degree angle to prevent potential damage.

Examine the interior of the tree for canker spots. Cut the limbs flush with the tree for removal. Remove other diseased limbs or dead limbs from the interior of the tree. This prevents spreading and allows the tree to use resources for growing.

Prune tips of branches along the side of the tree to form a hedge barrier. Only prune a little at a time until the desired shape is achieved. Trim faster growing branches that break the desired shape, for maintenance.

Pick drop cloths up and dispose of cuttings in an appropriate manner.

Water the base of the Leyland cypress trees until the ground is wet, but not drenched after the annual pruning and each trim.


Prune during the dry seasons to prevent the potential for cankers on the tree. Trim often during the growing season to maintain privacy hedges after the initial pruning.


Sharp pruning shears prevent limb and branch breakage. Only prune once a year.

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