Would it be aesthetically appealing to prune lower branches of spruce tree?

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by kintolm, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. kintolm

    kintolm New Member

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    Hi there,
    Thanks for your time & responses!
    I have a 10 year old spruce tree in my front yard that I am considering pruning the lower branches of. The reason being is it has a "bald spot" on the front that I am considering pruning up to (to about 1/3 or a little less, of the height of the tree).
    The tree is also extremely sharp and quite painful when brushed up against. We've had a few needle related injuries with the little ones when their ball or toys have gone under the tree.
    I am worried about pruning it and having it look silly. Can anyone share their experiences or input on this? I have attached some images as well.
    Thank you!
    Kin
    (sorry the image is washed out - it's been a sunny, bright day!)
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Blue Spruce Picea pungens. Personal opinion whether you like the branches down to the ground or not. I prefer them down to the ground, but not everyone will feel the same. You could take off just the very lowest branches to make getting lost toys out from under it a bit easier (or alternatively, get a stick with a hook on the end for pulling them out!).
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    People limb up Christmas tree-like, naturally low-branching conifers, hollies etc. all the time - and it seldom looks good. Joke term I have seen on the internet is "Calgary palm", in reference to stripping of bottom branches of spruce trees there. This describes the situation perfectly, that is the attempt to make one kind of tree with a particular growth habit type into another, completely different one using brutal pruning.

    Serious pruning manuals tell us to let the branches sweep to the ground, as that is what is most attractive and impressive. What is funny is how Christmas trees in the house are branched to the base yet outdoor landscape specimens are very often made to have bare bottoms.

    The main problem with your spruce, which has already been pruned enough to appear to be floating above the ground - cutting more off will only make it look more tenuous - is that it is right off the drive. Over time it will just get to be more in the way, as it grows ever wider. You might want to plant a replacement elsewhere, in a better spot, with a view to eventually cutting this one down.
     
  4. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Absolutely, in my opinion. Love spruce trees, I have a very tall Norway spruce in my front yard that has its lower branches removed, there just wouldn't be room otherwise (small yard).
    Everyone in our neighborhood has done the same.
    Something like this:

    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ3zcb9sNlmCavu7AE7O1XzKqa3znujcmNnvuD-X-JbziBwu4lN

    Sure the to-the-ground look can be impressive on a large fully grown tree, but many people don't have property space. I'd rather have the tree than not.
    Nevertheless, I've just always preferred seeing some trunk myself, only you want to make sure you don't trim it too high proportional to the tree or it will look silly. Bearing in mind also many varieties grow slowly so it will be a long time to correct any mistake like this. Seeing your picture your tree is pretty small, I wouldn't go very high at all. Just my thoughts!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yes, practice is very common. Consumption of toxic foods is also highly popular. Neither is a good idea, no matter how many people do it.
     
  6. Grooonx7

    Grooonx7 Active Member

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    "Appealing" to one is "appalling" to another. I would cast a very strong vote in favour of Ron B.'s opinion, preceding.

    Spruce trees, like so many natural life forms, come pretty well perfect "out of the box". Natural may be more than aesthetically pleasing, and the gardener who best respects this may well be the person with both the scientific data and the spiritual wisdom to comprehend a fundamental life-harmony that goes way, way deeper than a few words can express.

    My suggestion is to leave the tree alone, and then to spend a few years learning why. Your rewards will be many, and profound.
     

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