Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Trim a Cypress Tree

By Larry Parr
Cypress trees grow quickly and can become quite large. Pruning requirements are minimal, but pruning each year is important to maintaining a pleasing shape.
allee de cypres image by Beatrice Preve from Fotolia.com

Cypress trees are fast-growing trees that do well on their own or can be planted in rows for privacy screening. Cypress trees require little in the way of pruning each year, but they do grow best when some trimming is done. Cypress growing in rows often get to be 30 feet tall and ones growing individually can get almost twice that tall, so it is important to decide early just how tall you want your cypress to be, and top the tree when it gets that height. You can top cypress by simply cutting the main trunk straight across at the height you want your tree.

Prune your cypress in the spring once the danger of frost has passed. Pruning encourages new growth, and new growth needs time to harden off before winter.

Cut all dead and diseased wood first. Trim all dead wood and diseased wood back to healthy, green wood.

Remove brown branches that are growing only on the inside of the tree canopy in order to open the inside up to more air and sun. Cut these brown branches back to the trunk. Do not cut branches back to the trunk if they have green growth on their tips.

Cut the tips of branches in order to create a uniform and straight edge to your tree, sloping gently upward. However, never under any circumstances cut all the way back to brown leaves or branches. Your cypress will not fill in the brown patches--these will remain "holes" in your cypress for many, many years. Cut back only to green leaves and green branches.

Cut straight across the top of your cypress when the tree has reached the height you want. Each year trim the tips of branches that grow taller than the height you have selected.


Things You Will Need

  • pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Saw
  • Ladder


  • Prune your cypress lightly each year. The cypress does not need or benefit from heavy pruning.
  • Weal long sleeves and protective clothing when trimming your cypress; some people are allergic to the leaves of the cypress.
  • Do not trim your cypress with electric hedge trimmers.

About the Author


Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for television, everything from "Smurfs" to "Spider-Man." Today Parr train dogs and write articles on a variety of topics for websites worldwide.