How to Prune Italian Cypress Trees


Italian Cypress trees are evergreens with a tall, slender appearance. They grow up to 3 feet per year and add height to any landscape without taking up much space. As opposed to other evergreens, this one doesn't grow in a pyramid shape. Instead, it's a narrow, column-like tree. If you allow it, Italian Cypress will grow to a height of 40 feet. However, pruning it will keep it to the desired height.

Road lined with Italian cypress trees
(barbaracantiello/iStock/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Ladder
  • Pruning shears or hedge clippers
Step 1

Use pruning shears or hedge clippers to prune the Italian Cypress tree. Shears are ideal if you are doing upkeep on the tree and simply removing some wayward branches. However, if you want to shape or cut off the top of the tree, hedge clippers will make the job easier.

Vineyard with cypresses
gkuna/iStock/Getty Images
Step 2

Trim the tree in the early spring to keep its shape and prevent the branches from winter damage. Heavy snowfalls can cause them to open up and split. Remove branches that are too long or those that look unhealthy.

Cypress trees in park covered in snow
mikhail pogosov/iStock/Getty Images
Step 3

Take care of drooping limbs by clipping them off. Follow the limb back to the inside of the tree's canopy. Cut it at the point where it meets a healthy side branch.

Cypress detail
Borut Trdina/iStock/Getty Images
Step 4

Shear the tree by removing all the new terminal buds, which are the soft buds that are in their first year of growth. This will limit excessive growth.

Step 5

Top the tree to limit its height. Climb a ladder to the top of the tree and use hedge clippers to cut off the top until it's the desired height. Because of the fast growth of Italian Cypress trees, this may need to be repeated annually.

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Tips & Warnings

  • Beware that clipping off a large amount of the tree's crown, such as 25 percent, will probably leave a large wound. This could make the tree more vulnerable to disease or insect infestation.


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