Pruning of a cedar should be done sometime during spring, when there is little green growth. Check with a local tree expert to determine the best time of year to prune cedar trees. Generally, pruning should be avoided after about July or August, as the cedar has produced buds for next years growth around this point. Pruning the tree now will deplete the tree’s energy reserves by having to make new buds. This can weaken the tree during the colder seasons.
Start by Pruning any Dead Branches
These will be easy to find as they will be brown. Avoid cutting all of the green growth on a cedar tree; Leave about an inch or so. Trimming all of the green growth will result in death of that branch. Trim the green growth to the desired location of the branch. Usually this will be the present year’s growth. Trim branches growing straight down. Trim according to tree shape: If the tree is a columnar cedar, trim in a columnar fashion. If it is rounded, trim it in a round fashion. This will maintain the tree’s shape. Shape will also depend on the desired results. If a tree should be kept smaller, routinely trim it back to maintain a constant shape.
To top the cedar tree, cut no more than one quarter of the tree’s height off. The tree may look ungainly for several years, but will fill back in the desired shape. This can help improve tree shape if done correctly.
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