Cedar bushes or trees are evergreen, so they require little maintenance. The necessary trimming is minimal. Whether you own a columnar shaped tree or a short bush, good care will make your cedar last for many years.
First check with an arborist to see if it is a good year to trim your tree. Harsh climate temperatures and diseases can be hard on a cedar tree or bush after pruning. The Arbor Day Foundation in your city or a local college's horticultural department can offer advice on when to prune in your area. If neither of these resources is available, late winter is a safe time to trim cedar bushes and trees in most areas. You definitely want to trim before new spring growth.
Spray your tree with a garden hose two or three days before you plan to prune it, according to the Gardenguides.com. This will knock down all the dust, old leaves and spiders that may be in the tree, making pruning less messy for you. Then clean the area around the base of the tree. You will probably need sharp tools and maybe a ladder.
Remove damaged or dead leaves with pruning shears. If a limb is dead, cut it with a pruning saw. Don't cut beyond the branch collar, which is a bit like the short sleeve on a shirt; it extends a little ways past the trunk onto the limb. Trimming beyond this branch collar may damage the heart of the tree, as it is part of the actual trunk. Cut at least 3 inches out from the trunk of the tree. Then look at the tree overall to see if you need to even the balance. For instance, if you cut a branch on one side, you may need to cut the branches on the other side just as short. If a tree is unbalanced, splitting or toppling over may result.
It may take a few years for a cedar tree to regain its shape if you pruned it back quite a bit. Typically, cedar trees only gain about 6 to 12 inches of growth a year. Be careful not to trim all of the current year's new green growth from a cedar, otherwise it may never grow back.
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