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How to Prune a Birch Tree Like an Umbrella

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Will Need

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


  • Wear gloves for protection when pruning a birch tree like an umbrella.
  • Always use the level to ensure that your cut line is straight. If not, the tree may appear crooked.

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.