Limbing up an Evergreen: Could I Remove the Lower Branches of My Evergreen Tree?

Posted on: 26 December 2017

Conifers such as the Norway spruce and the eastern white pine are worthy additions to any yard. When planted strategically, they offer a home privacy and shade. They also make great noise barriers. However, when mature, some conifer species take up substantial space. For example, a mature white spruce could have a width of approximately 3-6 metres.

Wide Conifers Take up Space

The problem with conifers that grow to at least several metres wide is that they require a lot of space. Additionally, since the branches of many conifers are also close to the ground, they also become obstacles. Conifers next to driveways, for example, may encroach into your parking area. This can make parking increasing difficult.

The substantial width of some conifers also complicates garden maintenance practices, such as mowing your lawn. A garden with several mature conifers will gradually shrink in size due to the continued expansion of the trees' canopies. Fortunately, there is a simple—and safe—solution to this problem.

You Can Remove the Lower Branches

If your pine tree is taking up too much space, you can remove up to a third of the lower branches. This process is referred to as "limbing up" since it raises the canopy of a pine away from the ground. Many homeowners do this in order to increase visibility, and to make more space available.

As long as the branches are removed correctly, and your tree is healthy, removing a third of the lower branches should not harm your tree.

Timing is Important

While a healthy conifer can cope with having several lower branches removed, the timing of the removal is important. Prune too early, for example during late spring or summer, and you interfere with the tree's growth cycle, leading to deformity in future growth cycles.

The best time to prune your conifer's lower branches is from late winter to early spring.

Use the Right Techniques and Tools

 A pruning saw is ideal for this job. Unlike a chainsaw, which can be unwieldy, a pruning saw allows for more precision when cutting. Each branch should be cut just after the limb collar. The limb collar is the slightly raised area at the point where the branch emerges from the trunk. Cutting at this point makes it easier for the tree to heal the wounds.

If your pine trees are taking up too much room, consider hiring a professional tree service. Using the right tools and techniques, a tree service technician will help you free up space in your yard while making sure your tree stays healthy and attractive. 

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