Q:

How do I trim conifers?

A:

Quick Answer

Although a conifer needs little pruning, you must trim it to keep it from outgrowing its location. This process takes under an hour and requires pruning shears, a plastic sheet and a ladder.

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Full Answer

  1. Set up the ladder and plastic sheet

    Lay the plastic sheet under the tree to catch the clippings. Set up the ladder to reach the upper branches of taller trees. Avoid the upper, unsafe parts of the ladder.

  2. Consider your objectives

    Decide on the shape and size you want the tree to be. A conifer can only be pruned to a certain extent. It is often best to replace it when it becomes too large. Dwarf conifers are actually large plants that only grow slowly and are unsuitable for small spaces.

  3. Locate the dead zone

    Locate the dead zone of the conifer, which limits how much you can prune the tree. The dead zone is the area of the plant where no buds grow because of the shade the branches produce. Avoid cutting into old wood or the dead zone, because these branches do not grow back, except for a few varieties, such as yew. Trim only green foliage.

  4. Trim branches

    Cut back the central leader or main branch to only 12 inches tall. Prune side branches until they are six inches shorter than the main branch.

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