This Alberta Spruce tree was planted too close to the house. Alberta Spruces develop very long tap roots, which makes transplanting very risky once it has been established. There's  great danger of killing this otherwise healthy and happy six year old tree if the root is even slightly damaged.

Its location was a clear indication that spiraling the tree would add interest and create a tidy look to the back entrance of this house.  The decision was made, but timing is crucial to plant life.  Pruning at the wrong month can be as bad as pruning on the wrong day. It's always wisest to check The Farmer's Almanac Calendar,{http://www.farmersalmanac.com/calendar/}, for your specific area in the USA before making any drastic changes to your beloved plants.

The best time to shape an Alberta Spruce is the early spring, just a few days after the new tips have dropped their papery brown protective coatings.  One can also wait until the new growth has reached about an inch long. 

Be certain the weather temperature is no hotter than 78 degrees and that no severe heat is expected for about a week.  Also be certain that the tree has recently gotten sufficient water.  This will ensure that the cut tips of your tree will stay green and not turn brown with stress.

You'll need a nice sharp pair of household scissors, { preferably ones with a ten inch blade }, a pair of  hand bypass pruning clippers,{ with a curved blade }, and a ball of string or ribbon long enough to assist in marking exactly where to cut.

You'll also need to enter that quiet, peaceful, confident place within yourself as you work.  One wrong cut and the entire spiral design can  be ruined...and then what ?!?  OY !!!

The string or ribbon is intended to be your cutting guide. It's best to begin at the bottom of the tree. Gently begin laying  your ribbon or string on top of the foliage where you feel the spiral should begin.  Slowly, thoughtfully and methodically continue to wrap the string loosely  until you have reached a few inches from the top.

Now, turn your back and step several feet away from your wrapped tree.  How does it look ?  You'll probably notice the string line will need adjusting.  Aren't you glad you wrapped loosely ?

Keep in mind that your cut line will be much wider than your string.  In fact, your cut line should be at least as wide as the width of your wrist or lower arm, which  will be at least three inches wide.

Return to your tree and make string adjustments until your eye at a distance is pleased.

Now you'll have to explore the trunk of your tree and discover how the branches grow out from it.  Gently insert your hands and part the foliage to view what can be successfully cut away.  Use your string as a guide to decide exactly what and where to cut. 

Use the clippers and the scissors alternately as needed and begin to cut away, being certain to check your guidelines often as you work your way up the tree.  You'll have to constantly readjust your string and constantly step away and check your angles before you cut.

Once your basic shape has emerged, use the sharp scissors to carve nice curves into the foliage. 
Voila !  You're  done ! 

Science has proven that even your Alberta Spruce wants to be loved, and will be healthier if it is !
So, remember to tell your tree how beautiful she looks with a new haircut ! 

Next Spring, get out the sharp scissors and carefully snip away for Alberta to keep her shape and be an enjoyment  for decades to come !



Melissa Romans
06/25/2013 20:07

Does to matter how mature this spruce is?
It's been on my mind to attempt this and I've been trying to 'study up'. My concern was the branches would be bare too far away from the trunk. Any thoughts or words of wisdom on proceeding with a 8 yr old tree?
Hope to hear back


Thank you Melissa for contacting me with your question. I would definitely feel confident to create this spiral with an 8 year old Alberta Spruce. First, however, I would carefully part the greenery with my hands to have a peek inside at where the branches are growing. I have seen wonderful shapes emerge...some sculpted to look like people...some sculpted to be a series of round balls, one on top of the other...or just one big round ball on top. I believe that if you are conscientious, you should be able to do the spiral. You will notice that next year, new growth will fill in the spots you think to be too bare from the trunk. Don't worry and have fun with it. Just do it thoughtfully and slowly. Walk away when you are feeling stressed about it and finish another day. I'd love to see a before and after pic. Good luck !

Melissa Romans
06/26/2013 09:39

Thank you for your reply! I'll keep you posted! We're watching a bird that is nesting in it right now.
Let me know the best way to show you pics next spring. Your helpful tips will give me confidence!

Elizabeth Crist
10/24/2014 09:14

I have been asked to re-spiral 2 Alberta spruce for a homeowner listing her house next month. What are the negative consequences of pruning now? I am in zone 5b, southeast Michigan

12/18/2015 09:20

How is it that I missed your post so long ago ? I certainly hope all turned out well for the Alebertas you intended to reshape. Under the circumstances of listing a house, I would've said, "Go for it !" as sprucing up,{ excuse the pun / lol }, the exterior is essential to sales. Please accept my apology for the negligence.

12/17/2015 18:54

One can also wait until the new growth has reached about an inch long.

12/18/2015 09:33

Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. Yes, that is true.


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