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How to Properly Prune Cedar Trees

By Callie Barber ; Updated September 21, 2017

Cedar trees are evergreen trees that remain a vibrant green throughout the winter months. Used to build furniture and canoes, cedar trees also provide a habitat for wildlife and birds. Cedar trees can reach more than 70 feet in height and prefer moist and well-drained soils. Used to create wind breaks or fence borders, cedar trees require special pruning techniques to encourage them to thrive and flourish over time.

Prune the cedar tree in the spring, before growth begins. This will produce hardy growth the following season.

Prune the main top of the cedar trunk back a quarter of the tree’s height using pruning shears. Topping the cedar using this technique will assist the tree in growing higher and fuller. Do not top the tree excessively, as the cedar may not fill back in again.

Remove most of the present year’s growth, which are the green stems. If the cedar produces 6 inches of new growth each year, you can restrict the amount of growth to only 1 inch per year by removing 5 inches of new growth. This number will dictate how fast you want the cedar tree to grow; for more growth, prune less.

Prune all weak lateral branches, found toward the center of the tree. Remove all diseased branches by cutting off the entire branch.

For young cedar branches, take special care to not remove too much growth, as the rest of the tree will be left bare and reduce the ability of new growth in the future.

To maintain an already established thick cedar tree, shear the plants by June or mid-July, before the buds have fully formed. Pruning after the buds have formed will cause the cedar to produce more buds, which will eat up the energy reserve needed for winter.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Sterilize the pruning shears in between each cut to prevent spreading disease.

About the Author


Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.