June is the best month to prune your evergreen trees and shrubs, especially the conifers. Most have completed their new growth by now so it’s unlikely that you’ll have to repeat the process when more new growth appears.
New growth is lighter green than the normal color. The needles are much softer, even on plants like spruce that normally have very sharp needles. And, new growth is only on the ends of the branches.
If you want to be very sure the tree or shrub is finished adding new growth, wait a week or two before pruning.. Watch for the new growth to darken to the plant’s normal color and harden to the normal feel. The downside is that these branches may require extra effort to cut.
The same pruning rules apply to evergreens as to deciduous plants. Don’t top. Cut branches back to a junction where other branches emerge from the one you’re cutting. Leave the branch collar when you prune a tree limb.
The most important rule is to not prune your own trees, especially if you have to leave the ground. Tree branches can break unexpectedly and fall, injuring you or somebody on the ground. Conifer branches, with their very piercing needles, can also whip around and hit you in the face or another unprotected part of your body. Their springiness also makes conifer branches dangerous to stand on. Leave tree pruning – evergreen and deciduous – to our professional arborists.
I’ve presented recommendations for pruning individual coniferous evergreens shrubs. However, some people plant evergreens like yews (Taxus) as hedges. This is also the time to prune them. Although using hedge clippers isn’t recommended, I know many people do because it’s the easiest way to have an even flat top and sides. I caution you, though, not to cut the sides too far back. Needles grow only in the first few inches of the branches. If you cut too far, you’ll remove all the needles and be left with the woody interior.
This post has concentrated on coniferous evergreens. However, this is also the season to prune broadleaf evergreens like boxwood. Prune them the same way s you would coniferous shrubs.
Prune evergreens now, at the beginning of summer, and you’ll enjoy their beauty all summer long.