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Trimming bottom branches of Blue Spruce

Spring is coming, and the plants are gradually coming to life. Now is the time to start pruning plants. I know that many of you have a problem with blue spruce trees. These vigorous plants quickly occupy a large area in your yard.

Today let’s talk about trimming the lower branches of blue spruce, learn how to do it right. I will also describe the benefits of this and try to answer other questions.

Trimming bottom branches of Blue Spruce

Cases where trimming of the bottom branches is required

In most cases, the lower part of the spruce needs pruning if it is too large. This can interfere with the exit of the car from the garage, as well as making it difficult to get through the yard. Also, this method of pruning makes the plant more extravagant and sophisticated.

Another case when it may be necessary is when the spruce crown has spread to the whole flowerbed and prevents other plants from existing there. When you remove the lower branches, there will be plenty of extra space to plant a large number of shade plants such as hostas, coral bells, etc.

There are also cases where people do not plan to remove the lower tier of the blue spruce, but only want to shorten the bottom branches to make the spruce more compact. This allows you to get beautiful spruce that can grow in a small space.

All these cases encourage gardeners to limit space for their spruce. Next, we will discuss how to trim the lower branches and what tools to use.

The best time for trimming

If you have already decided that you need to reduce the size of your plants, then it’s time to find out when it’s best to do it. Not every season is suitable for this.

The best time for trimming in early spring, at this time, the plant has not begun to grow intensively, and it will easily pass through it. Also, in the middle of spring, blue spruce will have young growth, and all damage will heal quickly.

Another favorable period is early autumn; at this time, the growth rate is slowing down, which is a good indicator for the start of pruning. The plant then adapts and overwinter.

The unfavorable period is late spring and early summer because, at this time of year, blue spruce is growing fast, its young growths are not yet ripe, and you can damage other branches that are not planned to remove. Besides, at this time, the plant will lose a lot of juice if you cut large bottom branches.

Summer is also not the best time, as pruning at this time will stimulate the blue spruce to grow more intensively, and you will get new young growths in the fall.

Although I have cut the spruce at different times of the year, I still recommend doing it in the early spring or early fall.

Right tools are the key to success

For proper trimming, you will need quality tools, such as:

  1. pruning shears;
  2. garden knife;
  3. saw.

Use only the right tools from reputable manufacturers, this will allow you to work more relaxed and more comfortable, and your plants will have less damage.

You must sharpen your tools well. Otherwise, the cuts will be of poor quality, and the spruce will not recover well.

Be sure to disinfect your tools before you begin. It’s best to do it with alcohol, and this will protect the plant from possible infection with various diseases.

Additionally, you may need a pruning paste to cover the wounds that remain after you have cut the branches. Pruning paste will accelerate wound healing and prevent pests and diseases from getting there.

The other additional tool that you may find useful is the branch shredder; this is a convenient machine; it has helped me many times. It can chop spruce branches into small pieces.

How to properly remove the bottom branches?

Here we come to the main section of this post, and here I will try to explain how to trim the lower branches of blue spruce. I will also tell you what problems you may have and discover one trick that is often used by experienced arborists.

If you need a lot of space, try to trim no more than half of the spruce branches. If you need to remove more than half of the branches, do it in two stages. 25% of the branches the first year, 25% the next year. For a plant, pruning most of the branches can be fatal.

Suppose you need to trim the spruce 3 feet above the ground. Take the saw and cut the branches close to the trunk, starting from the bottom and moving up. It is important not to leave pods and stumps on the trunk so that the plant will recover better.

The trick I mentioned above is to fix the cuts on the bark with a sharp knife to make them more accurate. Use a well-sharpened garden knife. The saw leaves bad cuts; if not corrected, they will heal worse; this applies to the large lower branches. If the branches are thin, this is not necessary.

After trimming, spray all wounds with fungicide.

If you don’t want to remove the entire lower part of the plant, but want to make the blue spruce more compact, you can shorten the branches as much as you want. It is important to reduce the branch at the branching point. Here the buds will form, and new shoots will grow.

Yes, at first, the spruce will not be beautiful, but in 1-2 years, it will become lush and will have a compact columnar shape.

Today it has become popular to transform the blue spruce, which has reached a large size into a niwaki. There are a lot of photos and videos on the Internet on how to do this. You can also try to do the same.

I also, shape some of my conifers in this way, it looks very nice and takes up quite a bit of space.

Advantages of such pruning

Many people doubt whether to cut the whole lower part of the spruce. They are interested in what the plant will look like afterward, whether it will harm it. So let’s look at these issues in order.

Spruce without bottom branches is very aesthetically pleasing; in fact, it is one of the most common landscaping techniques. With this method of pruning will become a visible trunk of spruce, which has a beautiful red-brown color; it will be harmonious, contrasting with the blue needles.

If you do everything correctly, no problems with the plant should be. Many times I cut the bottom branches even in young spruces, and everything was fine.

Such pruning has several advantages. First, it gives more space in the yard. If the spruce grows on a flowerbed, then other plants can be planted under it. Removing the lower branches makes it easier to mow the grass around the spruce if it’s growing on a lawn.

Additional information

In the lower part of the spruce is hidden a considerable number of different beetles and insects that cause damage to the plant. They can hide inside of spruce and under the fallen needles.

Also, inside the spruce, there is almost no sunlight; this contributes to the development of fungi.

All of these problems can be solved by trimming the bottom. Your spruce will become healthier after that.

Finally, in nature, blue spruces also lose their lower branches. This is due to competition between the trees, they begin to shade each other and lose their lower branches. Therefore, the removal of the lower branches is a completely natural process.


Sunday 9th of July 2023

Will a blue spruce grow back branches if you accidentally cut back too much? Past the needles? Thanks.

Igor Viznyy

Monday 10th of July 2023

Hi Curious, Blue spruce can grow branches after pruning. However, it all depends on how much you cut it. It can also take a long time to regrow.