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A while back you discussed that overall trimming of an Alberta Dwarf Spruce is problematic, perhaps impacting its survival. If I remember correctly, you recommended replacing the tree with a new planting is likely the best approach. What are your thoughts of the tree surviving a single horizontal cut, perhaps removing the top half or top third of the tree. Would the remaining center eventually "fill in" with new green growth, essentially converting the tree to a lower growing shrub? As you can see from the attached photo, these 15-18 year old are very healthy trees, hardly dwarfs any longer, and are beginning to block daylight from the front windows. Thank You in Advance. Mike


Dwarf Alberta Spruces Dear Mike,

I recommend against cutting the Dwarf Alberta Spruce horizontally with one cut. It would look awful because the inside is all dead and it will not sprout new growth. Topping your spruces would be a bad idea. Tree topping is exactly what it sounds like. It's when you cut the top of a tree off, which reduces the tree's remaining top branches to stumps. As a result, your tree is left with weak, unstable limbs and a bare, unnatural appearance. It would not simply fill in like you want it to; in fact, it could very likely become infected with disease or fungus and kill the whole tree.

"Dwarf" in plant language means the plant grows very, very, very slowly; not that they stay small. There are Dwarf Alberta Spruces over at Connecticut College 18-20' tall. Your only choice is to replace the Dwarf Alberta Spruce that you have with new, smaller ones. An alternative option may be to have them cut down/pulled out and replace them with a smaller, similar tree such as "Flip's Magic Moment," a miniature arbor vitae. These small shrubs top out at 6 to 8 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide, and are more easily trimmed than a spruce. Either way, it looks like you have some digging to do! Good luck!

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.


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