How to prune fir trees

Written by elizabeth knoll
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How to prune fir trees
Prune a fir tree when it is young to achieve the best, natural cone shape. (albertobrian/iStock/Getty Images)

Fir trees are evergreen trees which grow needles instead of broad leaves. They are known for their cone-shaped appearance and the fact that they require little to no maintenance to achieve this shape. The most common reason a fir tree needs to be pruned is because it is growing into something, either a home, power cables or another tree. If the proper pruning routine is maintained when a fir tree is young, it will grow strong and require no maintenance when it is larger and harder to prune.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hand saw

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  1. 1

    Look over the fir tree to locate any branches that are dead or diseased. Cut these branches off near the trunk using a hand saw.

  2. 2

    Look for any broken branches. Branches that are broken almost all the way off should be completely removed. Branches broken near the tips or the middle may be partially removed. Cut through the branch with a hand saw, in front of a green shoot. If there is no green shoot left on the cut branch, the branch will die.

  3. 3

    Locate a bud near the top shoot. Cut the top shoot off with a hand saw a little above this bud. You will want the top shoot to be between 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) tall. Buds located on the north side of the shoot will produce the straightest growth.

  4. 4

    Prune off the tips of the branches next to the leader so that they are approximately 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) shorter than the main leader. Again, make sure there is new green growth behind your cut or the branch will die.

  5. 5

    Work your way down the sides of the fir tree, making sure each layer of tree is slightly longer than the previous layer. This will produce the best cone shape.

Tips and warnings

  • Dead or diseased branches may be pruned any time of the year. Pruning live branches is best done late winter to early spring.

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