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How to Prune Italian Cypress Trees

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Italian cypress trees are also called Cupressus sempervirens and Mediterranean cypress. They live a long time; some in Italy have been around for 1,800 years. It grows in many parts of the United States and can tolerate cold winters.The evergreen conifer grows in a tall column shape with a triangular peak. Italian cypress can be as tall as 40 feet high. Pruning it will control the height and improve the health of the tree.

Trim the Italian cypress in the early spring, before new growth begins. This will help form the tree and protect branches from being damaged in the winter. They can open and split under the weight of heavy snowfall.

Climb a ladder to the desired height of pruning. You should be able to prune the bottom part of the tree with a stepladder, but you'll need a taller one for pruning the top portion of the Italian cypress.

Remove diseased, split or dying branches by clipping them at the V-shaped joint where they meet healthy limbs.

Identify drooping limbs and limbs that are too long. Follow them into the Cypress' canopy to see where they meet another healthy limb. Use clippers to snap them at the joint.

Decide how tall you want the Italian cypress trees to be. If you have a pair flanking the front door, make them as even as possible. Use a tape measure to determine where to cut each one.

Cut off the top of the tree at the designated place with hedge clippers. Italian cypress trees grows about 3 feet annually, so you may need to "top" the tree regularly.


Things You Will Need

  • Ladder
  • Pruning shears or hedge clippers
  • Measuring tape


About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.