Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Member only

Pruning Conifers for Health

Dead, diseased, or damaged branches should be removed when the problem arises

This video is only available to All Access members

This video is available online for the first time ever exclusively for All Access members. Sign up for a free trial to access our entire collection of videos, articles, and plant records.

Start Your Free Trial

Pruning conifer trees and shrubs for health should be done anytime a problem pops up and can be safely corrected. Removing branches that have experienced winter damage, or branches that cross and could potentially rub against each other is important because these injuries can be an entry point for disease. Limbs that appear weak because of poor attachment angles (also called a narrow crotch) should also be pruned away. As the tree grows, excess bark accumulates in the crotch. This results in weakness because, over time, more bark and less wood holds the branch to the trunk.

In this video, Bert Cregg, an associate professor in the horticulture and forestry departments at Michigan State University, demonstrates how to prune evergreen conifers (including arborvitae, junipers, chamaecyparis, yews, pines, hemlocks, firs, douglas firs, and spruces) for health.

This article is only available to Fine Gardening members

View Comments


  1. maureen_rosen 08/25/2014

    We have yews,probably as old as I am, that consist of five feet of bare stem and a foot of green on top. I want to cut back to about 3 feet and see what will happen. Others on the committee are horrified. Help?

Log in or become a member to post a comment on this article.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."


View All