How to Prune Your Arborvitae for Optimal Growth


Arborvitae are one of the most popular trees for home landscapes. They are easy to grow, thrive in a variety of soil types, and are tolerant of drought and flooding.

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Pruning your arborvitae (Thuja spp.) is an essential part of keeping your evergreen shrub or tree healthy and vigorous. If you don’t prune it, your arborvitae can become misshapen, with bare areas where sunlight doesn’t reach. Regular pruning also encourages new growth, which helps fill in any bald spots.

The Different Types of Arborvitae

There are many different types of arborvitae, and they can be divided into two main groups: the American and the Asian. American arborvitae ( Thuja occidentalis) is indigenous to the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, while Asian arborvitae ( T. orientalis) is native to northeastern Asia.

Here are some of the most common types of American and Asian Arborvitae:
-American Arborvitae ( Thuja occidentalis): Also known as “white cedar” or “eastern arborvitae”, this is the most popular type of Arborvitae planted in North America. It is a rapid grower, reaching a height of 40-60 feet (12-18 m) tall and 12-20 feet (3.5-6 m) wide.

-Asian Arborvitae (Thuja orientalis): Also known as “Chinese checkpoints” or “false arborvitae”, this is the second most popular type of Arborvitae planted in North America. It grows more slowly than American Arborvitae, reaching a height of only 20-40 feet (6-12 m).

Other common types of Arborvitae include:
-Hooker’s or looseleaf Arborvitae ( T. standishii): A slow-growing evergreen that reaches a height of only 10-20 feet (3-6 m). It has light green leaves that turn yellowish-brown in winter.

Pruning your arborvitae is an important part of keeping it healthy and ensuring that it grows properly. There are two main reasons why you should prune your arborvitae: to remove damaged or diseased branches, and to promote new growth.

The Benefits of Pruning

Pruning your arborvitae (Thuja spp.) can seem daunting, but it’s really not that difficult – and the benefits are well worth the effort. Proper pruning encourages strong, healthy growth, and can even help prevent disease.

Pruning also allows you to shape your arborvitae the way you want it to look. You can create a neat, formal hedge, or a more naturalistic shape. Either way, pruning is essential to keeping your arborvitae looking its best.

When to Prune
Arborvitae are fast-growing trees, so they will need to be pruned at least once a year – and sometimes more often. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This will give you a clear view of the tree’s structure, and will make it easier to see which branches need to be removed.

How to Prune
When pruning your arborvitae, the goal is to create an even, symmetrical shape. Start by removing any dead or damaged branches. Then, cut back any new growth that is longer than the rest of the branches. If necessary, you can also remove any branches that are rubbing against each other or crossing over each other.

As you prune, be sure to make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle. Avoid leaving any stubs, as these can invite disease and pests into the tree. When finished, your arborvitae should have a neat, even shape with no bare patches or gaps.

The Right Time to Prune

The best time to prune your arborvitae is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This will help ensure that your plant has enough time to heal before the growing season begins. Arborvitae are very resilient, so don’t be afraid to prune them back quite a bit if necessary. The important thing is to make sure that you don’t prune too late in the season, as this can cause new growth to be damaged by frost.

The Right Tools for the Job

To prune your arborvitae properly, you’ll need a few tools. A sharp pair of pruning shears is a must, as well as a small saw for larger branches. You’ll also need a stepladder if you can’t reach the top of the tree. Finally, make sure you have some gloves to protect your hands from the sharp needles.

The Proper Way to Prune

Arborvitae (Thuja spp.) are popular evergreen shrubs known for their dense, columnar growth habit and ability to thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. Although they are relatively low-maintenance shrubs, proper pruning is essential for keeping arborvitae healthy and attractive. Read on to learn more about the proper way to prune your arborvitae.

The proper way to prune arborvitae is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches first. Next, thin out the interior of the shrub by removing any overcrowded or crossing branches. Finally, cut back the remaining branches by one-third to one-half their length. It’s important to make all cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a side branch or bud.

To keep your arborvitae looking its best, it’s best to prune it annually in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.


Arborvitae are beautiful, versatile evergreens that can be used as privacy hedges, specimen plants, or accents in the landscape. Proper pruning is essential for keeping these shrubs looking their best and promoting healthy growth.

In general, you should prune your arborvitae in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Then, trim back any straggly or overgrown branches to promote fuller growth. Finally, thin out the interior of the plant to improve air circulation and allow more light to reach the tender new shoots.

With a little care and attention, you can keep your arborvitae looking neat and tidy all season long!

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