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How Do You Stop A Spruce Tree From Growing Taller?

Keeping the trees in your garden a specific size can sometimes be tricky. For example, do you have a spruce tree growing that you want to stop from getting taller but don't know what to do? What is the best way to stop a spruce tree from growing any taller?

Well, we've done plenty of research into this question and have the answers below!

If you want to stop a spruce tree from becoming taller, you need to cut its main trunk down to the size you want it to stay at. Since spruce trees are pretty slow growing, you can get ahead of this by finding the central trunk of your tree and cutting the top.

However, avoid the lower branches of spruce because they do not always grow back after being removed or heavily pruned.

As we start this post, we will cover growing spruce trees. We'll also discuss how to stop spruce from growing taller, among other gardening tips and tricks. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!

How Can I Stop My Spruce Tree From Getting Taller?

Green spruce branches

Suppose you have a spruce tree you want to top off. Sometimes, our gardens can't handle massive trees, leading us to have to get crafty. In general, spruce grow pretty slowly, so you should have time to prune your tree before it gets out of control.

As we mentioned, finding its central trunk is the best way to stop spruce from getting taller. Next, you want to cut off the top of your spruce, which will prevent it from ever getting taller.

Remember, this is permanent, so be careful how far you cut down. Furthermore, you also don't want to prune the lower sections of spruce because they don't always grow back.

This conifer can be temperamental when stressed, so please be cautious.

On top of that, your spruce tree may need to get a bit taller before you stunt it, so try and wait a couple of years. Keeping a tree too small can affect its cone production and overall health.

It's also worth noting that the stronger and fuller the top of a spruce, the taller it gets.

Can You Cut Off The Top Of A Spruce Tree?

Yes. Although this isn't the best thing for your tree, you can cut off the top of a spruce. Typically, you only want to do this if your tree becomes unmanageable, as it can open the door to disease and other health issues.

Since the top of a spruce tree is its first line of defense from the sky, removing it can be problematic. However, that's not to say this is impossible or will always harm your tree severely.

As we said before, you want to try and locate the main trunk of your spruce, prune the upper foliage, and in the last case: cut off a small portion of the top of your tree.

Regardless, this should not be more than a foot or so off the top of your spruce tree. If you cut off too much of the tree's canopy, death and disease become even likelier.

According to Purdue University, larger evergreens don't often respond well to having their top removed. This can be traumatizing for a tree, and rightfully so.

Therefore, try and either take a less aggressive approach (prune the upper branches to keep your spruce small) or remove the top before your spruce grows too large—the less traumatic, the better.

What Happens If I Cut The Top Of My Spruce Tree Off?

fir tree forest in morning time

If you cut off the top of your spruce tree, you can expect it to stay at that height forever. Generally, your spruce should also bush out a bit after you cut the tip of its trunk, meaning it can be harder to manage.

Even though your tree won't get any taller, you might see it widen out significantly. That's because your spruce no longer has energy moving to its tip but instead all down and outwards.

Of course, this might be perfect for those wanting to use their tree at Christmas or sell it to a local tree farm/nursery. Typically, people like a shorter, rounder Christmas tree, which is why people often do this.

In contrast, if you cut off the top of a spruce in the wild, this might cause it to become sick. The crown or top of the spruce protects the lower sections from disease and other problems.

Therefore, removing it can be detrimental to the overall health of your spruce.

How Do You Trim A Spruce Tree That's Too Tall?

a close up shot of a branch of a fir tree

Start with the lower sections of your spruce that become too tall to reach. As we said, you don't want to remove any healthy lower branches from the spruce.

That's because these lower sections don't usually grow back: ever. Therefore, remove dead or dying lower, middle, and upper branches from your spruce tree.

You might need a ladder and a long pair of tree-trimming shears. Luckily, many brands make extended models for this task, so you shouldn't have trouble finding the right tool.

In addition, if you cut the top off your spruce and it's still too tall to reach, you might want to hire a professional landscaping company to handle the top section.

Even though saving money is nice, you don't want to put yourself in danger.

It's also important to remember that spruces have short, sharp needles that can be trimmed back to the lateral branch/dormant bud.

How Many Times A Year Should You Prune Spruce?

Spruce branch. Beautiful branch of spruce with needles, Christmas tree in nature

It's usually best to prune a spruce tree once each year in the spring. You want to trim back new growth on your tree once it has begun expanding. Additionally, removing dead sections of your spruce throughout the year is a good idea.

Luckily, this conifer doesn't require much pruning or attention at all. You can get away with minimal trimming and still have a gorgeous, showy tree.

That said, if you want to keep your spruce at bay, that's when you need to manicure it more often. The key to keeping spruce short is trimming back their top section, even removing the tip of your trunk if necessary.

Again, your tree won't become any taller once the tip is gone, but it can widen out a bit. In that scenario, you might prefer to prune your tree throughout the year whenever its branches become untamed.

According to The Morton Arboretum, cut back to a lateral branch or a visible dormant bud to reduce a spruce branch's size.

Can You Train A Spruce Tree To Grow Small?

Rows of spruce, firs on tree nursery farm. Little coniferous fir-tree seedlings for sale

Yes. As long as you continue to prune and shape your spruce, it will grow small. This species responds well to routine maintenance, even if it doesn't naturally require it.

Since a spruce tree grows pretty slowly, it should be easy for gardeners to stop their conifer from getting out of control. Specifically, as long as you are doing spring-time branch trimming and removal: your spruce should stay small.

However, that's not to say your spruce won't continue gaining height and spread. Like any growing tree, spruce continues to get taller and broader as it matures.

That means you might need to cut off the top of your spruce if you can't keep up with its growth rate and behaviors. Think of doing that as a last resort rather than your first action plan.

According to Tree Journey, too much shaping can give spruce an awkward physical form and cause its health to decline. Again, sometimes nature will do its own thing.

What Is The Smallest Spruce Tree Variety?

If you want a smaller spruce variety for your landscape, we recommend the Dwarf Alberta spruce. Not only does this tree remain pretty tiny throughout its lifetime, but it also grows very slowly.

Since you likely want something similar, this smaller spruce will be a nice alternative to non-dwarf cultivars. This conifer is native throughout the Northern United States and Canada.

Furthermore, a Dwarf Alberta spruce will only reach about 10-13 feet tall and only grow about two to four inches yearly. So, if more small spruce sounds more your speed, this is the tree for you!

How Fast Do Spruce Trees Grow?

Latorita's spring gently flowing through an alpine pasture and a wild spruce forest, How Do You Stop A Spruce Tree From Growing Taller?

When it comes to how fast a spruce tree grows, this is relatively slow. Usually, a spruce tree will see around 13-24 inches of growth annually.

So, you can expect your tree to become one to two feet taller every year in your yard. As we covered before, stopping spruce from getting too tall shouldn't be hard because of its slower growth rate.

Many experts consider this conifer a "medium" grower, although spruce is on the slower side compared to other trees. However, your tree could exceed 24 inches of yearly growth in ideal climates, so this isn't impossible.

You also want to factor in what type of spruce tree you have. As mentioned above, the Dwarf Alberta spruce grows two inches annually, so that's a stark difference.

To Wrap Things Up

Latorita's spring gently flowing through an alpine pasture and a wild spruce forest

Whether you have one spruce or multiple, it's always good to know how to tame them. We found that you can keep a spruce tree from getting taller by pruning its upper section.

Specifically, many gardeners remove the tip of their spruce to prevent it from getting any taller. Again, this isn't always the best idea for spruce, as their crown works as protection from disease, pests, and the elements.

However, removing the upper part of a spruce tree might be your only choice. Some trees grow faster than others, so this will be different for everyone.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related garden posts below:

Spruce Tree Dying—What To Do? [Inc. From Bottom Up, Top Down, One Side, & Inside Out]

How To Shape A Conifer Tree Into A Spiral [Step-By-Step Guide]

How To Hide A Dead Conifer Hedge