Intro: Cloud Pruning a ConiferWhen I first moved into my house a few years ago there was only one thing that annoyed me about the place.
I lived with this eyesore in my front yard for a year or two, but then I was lucky enough to be able to visit Kyoto in Japan.
On my return from Kyoto my eye fell on the hideous blob of conifer in my front yard, and even though I hadn't the faintest idea of how to go about it, I decided I would have a go at turning it into a thing of beauty. The next thing I did was get out my secatuers (spell check where are you?) and a saw, and started cutting. As I removed the weight of all the dead material and excess junk, the tree seemed to come alive. If you have any questions please post them and I'll do my best to answer them, but be warned they are probably better directed to someone who knows what they are talking about.i just came back from a visit to Kyoto and was blown away by the trees, no mattar how big.
Interesting patterns and shapes can also be created like this double spiral on a Golden Yew. Two conifer types were used the low growing ball shaped shrubs to make the spiral at ground level.
Leylandii are forever needing extra trimmi9ng but if you enjoy pruning then it may be the plant for you. Conifers include a wide array of plant types, all with different types of needles, which all respond differently to pruning.

Pruning method for pinePines should be pruned during active shoot growth because this will allow sufficient time for the shoot to produce a new set of buds for next year’s growth. Pruning method for fir, Douglas fir, and spruceTo control height, prune the leader while the trees are dormant. My reasoning was that if it didn't survive my attentions then that would still be a better outcome that doing nothing. The branched relieved of all that weight started to lift up and present themselves in a much more proud manner.
Many conifers have evolved in regions with low rainfall, poor soil conditions, and extreme temperatures, so they are generally considered to be rugged plants; conifers, in fact, almost seem to thrive on neglect.
This is due to differences in growth patterns: when the tree sets new buds, pushes new growth, or stops growing altogether. Kyoto's beauty is astonishing, and among the most striking aspects of Kyoto for me were the gardens.
I continued trimming off anything that didn't look quite right until I got to the point that I no longer wished the thing dead. Occasionally, two or more terminal leaders may become dominant, creating a Mohawk look, or the main leader grows quickly, making the tree look like it has a rocket shooting out the top (see photo, above).
Almost all gardeners, however, have found themselves in the position where a tree grows faster than anticipated into other plants or buildings, and the need to keep that conifer in check arises.HealthRemoving dead, diseased, or damaged branches should be done anytime a problem pops up and can be safely corrected.

These conifers get a flush of new growth after pruning, so the best time to give them a haircut is when they are not actively growing. Removing branches that cross and could potentially rub against each other is important because these injuries can be an entry point for disease.
Here are some identification tips, timing guidelines, and pruning methods for the most common conifers.
Pruning for size control, there­fore, can only be done on new growth (where the stems are still green and pliable). They tell me that tree pruning in that part of the world is an art form mastered by very few people, and they are usually from a long family line of tree pruners and the art is passed down the generations. Extra leaders can also develop into branches that have poor attachment angles and are often the first to break in storms. Limbs that appear weak because of poor attachment angles (called a narrow crotch) should also be pruned away. It is possible, nevertheless, to rehabilitate old, unsightly conifers with some drastic and creative pruning that can result in a new, pleasing look.

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