Questions and Answers about Evergreen Trees

Question:
I have a beautiful, large pine tree next to my house. Unfortunately the roots are starting to approach the foundation. The root is approximately three inches in diameter. Will I hurt the tree if I prune the root?

Answer:
Cutting the roots of your pine tree shouldn't damage the tree. It will probably stunt the tree's growth for a couple of years, but it should bounce back in time. When cutting the roots try to make a circle around the tree just below where the outer branches reach. Try not to get any closer to the trunk than that circle. Use a spade to cut your circle around the tree. You may need to use a pruning saw to cut through the roots. A root saw will be perfect for cutting through the roots. Remove all roots from the ground that are beyond the circle around the tree.

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Question:
I have four holly trees planted next to each other. Some years they produce berries other years they don't. Why? When and how should I prune them?

Answer:
Evergreen Holly trees generally require little pruning, except to maintain their shape. They should be pruned in the spring, while trees are still dormant, to remove crossing and rubbing branches. Also prune at this time to control other wayward growth. Pinch or shear the tree to encourage dense growth and to help maintain an attractive pyramidal form. Whatever trimming you do, do not cut back to the leafless portion of the branches. Cutting there could prevent re-growth.

There are many reasons why the trees do not produce berries each year. The weather and amount of moisture they receive are probably the two main factors. Holly trees need moist soil. Be sure to water the trees well before winter to help prevent winter burn. Sometimes it helps to wrap the trunks in burlap before winter. It is a good idea to keep a good layer of mulch around the trees'bases year round to protect the roots. Both male and female flowers grow on separate male and female plants. Both are required for berries to be produced. Berries are only produced on the female plants. If one or the other variety has had a bad year, this can affect berry development. Birds also eat the berries.

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Question:
I have a small evergreen sapling. How do I prune it to keep it healthy and small enough for our garden area?

Answer:
As your young evergreen grows, you will need to remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth as it develops. Once the evergreen has had a good growing season in which to establish its planting site and has become dormant it can then be pruned further to develop shape. In general, the spring is the best time to prune an evergreen. Be careful not to prune your evergreen too early in the spring or too late in the summer. Evergreens produce soft new growth that may be damaged by frost or cold wind.

When pruning a young evergreen, the object is to ensure a healthy plant and to develop its symmetrical shape. Start by removing any cold-damaged growth as well as any badly positioned stems. Next, cut off any weak or straggly stems, and lightly tip-prune any overlong stems to add balance to the shrub's outline. You also need to remove shoots to thin out congested areas.

If you need to contain growth or to make your evergreen smaller, plan to prune just before growth begins, cutting stems back to side branches within the plant.

As your evergreen grows, keep in mind that you never want to cut off more than one-third of its total green material at one time. And make sure you make the trimming an annual event. If you miss even one year of trimming, it may be difficult to get it back into shape.

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Question:
Can you tell me a little about Hollywood Junipers?

Answer:
This is a vast group of coniferous trees and both upright and prostrate shrubs. Juvenile foliage is sharp and needle-like; mature foliage is softer and scale-like. Some plants have only one or the other; other plants have both. Foliage ranges from light to dark green, to blue-green, to blue or silver and often turns purplish in winter. Female plants produce small, round, blueberries that are used to flavor gin.

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Question:
How do you prune a Yucca tree that has five limbs and has overgrown the height we want it to be?

Answer:
The best time to prune your yucca tree is after the flowering ceases. At that time you can cut the branches back to where they meet other branches or meet the trunk. Hopefully, they will help the tree fit to the size you want it.

If you are cutting long limbs, remember to make several cuts. Cutting a heavy limb right at the trunk may cause it to tear the bark from the stress of the saw.

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Question:
My 12-foot spruce tree's trunk is very flexible. I was wondering if I pruned the ends of the new growth would that help the tree to gain strength in it's trunk area. if so, when can I do this?

Answer:
Do not prune off the ends of new growth. Generally, spruces look best when left unpruned with their own natural shape. Only dead, diseased and awkward growth is pruned on spruce trees. Remove the dead and diseased wood as soon as you notice it. Awkward growth should be pruned in late winter before new growth begins. Even if your spruce tree is 12-feet tall, the trunk is probably not very thick yet. The strength in the trunk should come as the trunk gets thicker.

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Question:
When should I prune a root on a pine tree?

Answer:
Cutting the roots of your pine tree shouldn't damage the tree. It will probably stunt the tree's growth for a couple of years, but it should bounce back in time. When cutting the roots try to make a circle around the tree just below where the outer branches reach. Try not to get any closer to the trunk than that circle. Use a spade to cut your circle around the tree. You may need to use a pruning saw to cut through the roots. A saw such as our arborist 13-inch curved saw will be perfect for cutting through the roots. Remove all roots from the ground that are beyond the circle around the tree. You need to root prune when it is coming out of dormancy (late winter/very early spring).

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