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By Piers66

Surrey, United Kingdom Gb

How hard can I prune a conifer?

My girlfriend has a conifer in her garden that's got too large, at about 10 foot tall. Ideally it would be a foot or three shorter and quite a bit slimmer.

I've done a little clipping, reducing the top a bit, but it looks like if I went as deep as we'd like it would just expose the brown / dead interior.

How hard can you prune one of these? If you cut back into 'old wood' would it recover?





Short answer, no. Unlike deciduous trees, conifers do not have dormant buds on the branches and trunk which would grow when stimulated by pruning. What is brown stays brown. You would need to leave at least 1 inch of growing material when pruning.

22 Oct, 2019


And I would wait until spring if you decide to prune as OB suggests as it can encourage new, soft growth which would be burnt off if there are frosts.

22 Oct, 2019


the answer is no for the reasons given by Owdboggy.
you could reduce the height by finding the middle and cutting out the leading twigs but you wont be able to make it slimmer.

22 Oct, 2019


Yes agree with owdboggy, don’t go into the old wood, however if you want to reduce the height a little say two feet, then the secret is to carefully study the top frame work of the branches and go down two feet in the centre leaving some of the top growth to hide the cut, this is then slightly trimmed, and in time the top will fill in, you can speed this up by wiring together some of the top growth, I have done this many times, but takes a little time, another idea would be to look inside if it has got a decent long trunk, then you could if you so wish expose the trunk and create a topiary ball, the effect can look great.

22 Oct, 2019

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