How to Trim Silver Sheen Trees for a Privacy Screen

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Silver Sheen trees (Pittosporum tenuifolium) grow as a shrub if pruned regularly or reach tree heights if pruned less. Because Silver Sheen trees are evergreens, they make good privacy screens to block out your home from public view. Creating a privacy screen requires that you decrease the planting space between the trees. Pruning a Silver Sheen privacy screen should be most severe when the trees are young to encourage more foliage development and a thicker screen.

Things You'll Need

  • Loppers
  • Hand pruners
  • Cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Pruning shears
  • Rake

Wait until you see new leaf development on the Silver Sheen trees in the early spring. The new leaves will have a brighter green color than the older leaves which are dark green.

Locate dead limbs, which have no foliage on them, and prune them off at the junction of the main trunk using loppers or hand pruners. Then locate any limbs with disease, such as mildew or spots, and remove them in the same manner to prevent the disease from spreading.

Sanitize all pruning tools after every cut by wiping them down thoroughly using a cloth rag soaked with alcohol. This kills any bacteria and mold spores and prevents you from transmitting them to healthy tree portions.

Walk to one side of the Silver Sheen screen and trace one of the horizontal limbs back by half. Cut the limb off with pruning shears. Use the cut stem as a guide and cut all remaining limbs back to the same length using the pruning shears.

Repeat the pruning process on all remaining sides of the tree.

Place a step ladder next to the tree and prune the tips off of the highest branches just to neaten them all to the same height. Typically you only remove 1 to 2 inches, called tipping.

Rake the ground under the Silver Sheen to collect the trimmings and dispose of them.

Tips & Warnings

  • Repeat the pruning process at least once per year for the first two years. Afterward, the trees will stay in an upward growth pattern with only minor trimming required.

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