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Top-Pruning White Fir for Aesthetics

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From: Norm Schlafmann
West Bloomfield, MI
I have a 12' white fir in my front yard which I would like to keep from growing too tall if possible. Can I top off the tree at about 15'? I don't mind if it will fill out more but I would like to maintain a cone shape by pruning it each year.

Please advise.

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Greetings Norm:

Technically, you can top-prune trees; however, I don't know any expert who would recommend top-pruning as an aesthetic, cultural practice for shaping and forming trees. In fact, there are hundreds of pruning publications published by academicians who state that you should never top-prune a tree (granted, there is always the occasional exception, but this practice does come with consequences).

Please refer to this Idaho Extension Forestry publication for conifer pruning:

Best of luck!

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