Trimming Up Blue Spruce

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Unregistered, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. We have a 50 ft blue spruce threatening to take over our driveway and we would like to actually widen our driveway. Originally we planned to have have the lower branches removed about 8 ft up the tree to allow for the driveway, a tree cutting contractor told me that pruning up the tree would look "dumb" and that putting a new driveway in right next to the tree would most likely kill it. I love this tree and don't want to have it cut down. Is this true?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Even if the paving doesn't kill it, it will not look as good as if it branches to the ground. Pyramidal conifers with a basal skirt are more elegant and impressive than when the crown is perched on a bare trunk. Left in place it will also drop cones and needles on the paving, perhaps eventually start lifting and cracking it with its roots.
     
  3. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    If you must put a driveway in , consider suing something like the grass pavers, they will do less harm than concrete or asphalt. I would still lean towards not doing it though if you want to save the tree in the long term. and yes, pruning it like that will look dumb ;)
     
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I know this is not the best remedy but if you
    do not mind renting a crane you can always
    move the tree to a new location. The digging
    work around the base of the roots will be no
    picnic to free the tree plus leave enough root
    system left for transplanting but it can be done,
    I've done it.

    Pruning up the tree will effectively ruin the
    overall look of the Spruce, depending on the
    variety but with most seedling or common
    Blue Spruce they will not respond well to
    such pruning. Some people here like the
    skirts raised up for a lawn setting but we've
    found the tree does not produce much top
    growth after that. If someone wants a large
    bun shaped shrub rather than a tree shape
    then okay, I can go along as I've seen some
    Fat Alberts, Foxtails and Hoopsiis do all
    right with their skirts raised. Most Blue
    Spruce will look hideous and rather
    unbalanced, naked is the best term for it
    until the bare trunk fills in if it ever does.
    With many of these Spruce the pruned areas
    will not fill back in. Once the skirt has been
    cut off, all we will see are legs from then on.
    A Redwood filling back in going from a mini
    skirt back to a full length skirt is not a problem
    over time but for a Blue Spruce it will be.

    Calcium from the concrete is guaranteed to
    kill off root systems. Covering over the roots
    with concrete and you might as well cut the
    tree down now before you have to later.

    Jim
     
  5. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    on the other hand...

    I can't comment specifically about the Blue Spruce, but I have over the years pruned up lots of Doug firs, Balsams and Cedars (western red) and overall liked the results. If the alternative is "no tree" I wouldnt hesitate for a minute. Pruning for a driveway on only one side of the tree is going to look pretty ridiculous, but pruning all round works for me.
    Paving over the roots is, as noted, a recipe for disaster, but there are alternatives. Even with the alternatives or even just gravel compaction can be an issue, but we have trees here that divide the road and do just fine (and have for many years).
    Ralph
     
  6. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Ralph:

    Pruning Fir, Douglas fir, various Cedars, False Cypress and
    Arborvitae and yes, even most other Spruce works to lift their
    skirt up some. I prune my trees every two years and now the
    US Forest Service is following my lead. I did it to relieve low
    underlying dead wood and to act as fire prevention. With the
    above trees they will readily respond with some top growth but
    most Blue Spruce are not so accommodative. I suppose that if
    I had to deal with a desire of widening the drive way or expanding
    a concrete slab that I might lift the skirt of the Blue Spruce also
    but there are hardships to soon follow and people need to know
    some of them. If people can handle the look of the tree having
    a mini skirt then who cares what any of us may feel about it but
    there will not, in many cases, be the response of much top growth
    either for a while. The possible Calcium toxicity is an issue that
    many people are not aware of. As long as the owner knows in
    advance that to lift and remove the skirt and to pour concrete
    either close to or over the roots that there can be dire ramifications
    of doing so. Then the decision to be made is more of an informed
    one as opposed to the contrary.

    Jim
     
  7. Bill Cory

    Bill Cory Member

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    Can I remove the lower branches of a Blue Spruce or any Spruce tree from the base, up 6 feet. I'm six feet tall and need clearance to mow underneath. There are four spruce trees in a row evenly spaced across 75 feet. They are not fully grown and are about 25 ft tall. It's near impossible to mow under them as they are now. I do like he look of full grown spruces that have had the lower branches removed. Having the branches removed also provides more space in my back yard. Do I have to wait until the tree is full grown before I remove the lower branches?
     
  8. Dixie

    Dixie Active Member

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    is there even grass growing underneath the spruces where you would need to mow? i would think that it being so shaded not much would be under there anyway. just picturing how tall 6 feet is, that seems kind of drastic at first. that would be alot of removal if the branching is currently touching the ground. could you just remove a few of the absolute lowest limbs and only mow what you could reach without creating complete clearance under the tree? just thinking out loud.
     
  9. Bill Cory

    Bill Cory Member

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    The lawn is sod laid down under the trees and is growing.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    So far.
     
  11. Bill Cory

    Bill Cory Member

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    Now I can get to the needles fallen on the ground and vacuum them up , so that the lawn will contiue to grow. I've grown up with Spruce trees from Seedlings to 50 years. I've also mowed around them most of my life. Even if the grass dies, it will be nice to have the extra yard space underneath the branches, which are approx. 6 feet up from the ground. My main concern is if I cut the branches too high up and as the tree grows, the distance from the ground to the lowest branches continues to increase. I guess only time will tell.
     
  12. Dixie

    Dixie Active Member

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    if you cut the limbs at 6 feet from the ground up, won't that distance always be the same? the limbs won't get any further away from the ground as the tree grows, right? from my understanding, the tree's growing point is from the apical meristem which is on the tips of the tree, not from the ground up. if you mark a spot 6 feet on the trunk, it will always be at 6 feet. please correct me if i am wrong.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Yes, the branches do not travel up the trunk as though on an escalator. If anything, they will in a way get closer as years go by and foliage on ends weighs them down, causing tips to sag a bit.
     
  14. Bill Cory

    Bill Cory Member

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    Thanks for clarifying where the growth of the tree will occur. I'm able to breath a sigh of relief, after thinking the bottom branches' distance from the ground would grow as if on an escalator.

    Thanks again and again for this information. I was really worried about it.
     
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Builds upon itself, more like a soft ice cream cone. Branches remain at level where they first popped out of the main stem. Did I say soft ice cream? Hey! That sounds good!
     
  16. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    Leaving one or two lowest branches will help strengthen and thicken the trunk, though might not look great!
     

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