I have a four year old blue spruce tree. It's almost five feet tall. I kept running over the lower branches with my lawn mower so without thinking I cut off the bottom branches around the tree. It's doing good, but I'm worried that when it grows taller it might have a empty spot in the middle were I cut the branches off. Also I heard that I'm supposed to cut the top down a little so the tree fills out. How and when do I do this pruning? Thanks.
Hardiness Zone: 5b
Sue from Upstate NY
A tree only grows from the top. When you trim the bottom branches, they will always be the bottom branches. You won't end up with a bare spot halfway up the tree. (08/25/2008)
By Beth from MA
You're lucky you weren't married to my grama ;-)
Well, maybe should have placed a little flower garden and edging around the base of the tree as a reminder to be careful when mowing instead of cutting the lower branches. At any rate, the trunk of the tree will remain at the same height it is now. So don't worry about "baldness pattern" spreading further up, but you definitely have a visible tree trunk for life now.
Sharing a personal family funny on this one ;-) My grampa and grama had a blue spruce in a corner of their backyard when I was really little (1950s) and it grew like gang busters cause that corner had originally been the chicken coup area so the soil was well fertilized ;-)
Anyway, my grampa thought there must be "something wrong" with this tree because it didn't show a trunk like all the other pine species because this pine still had branches being ground level. So, he decided to cut off all those lower branches in order to make it look like all the other fir varieties :-o
Well, my grama just about had heart failure when she saw it and (with her Irish temper) went crazy! She chased him around the yard with an axe and then chopped the tree down with that axe. They never planted a blue spruce again ;-)
Like I said, you're lucky you weren't married to my grama ;-)
I personally don't think you should prune any kind of spruce tree. Cutting off the bottom branches is sometimes necessary to let in sun to your yard, or to facilitate lawn mowing. As long as you have not cut off too much, the tree will be fine. Some people prune spruce trees into odd round shapes, but I prefer them left alone. If you want a round tree, plant a round tree. I think spruce trees should look natural. (08/26/2008)
You can call your local extension agent for advice that works in your area. I think a circle of wood chips, maybe a radius of 3 feet, around the tree base would protect it from your lawnmower. And then too, you wouldn't have to worry about your tree if someone besides you cuts your grass. (08/27/2008)
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