Pruning Leyland Cypress – Tips On How To Trim A Leyland Cypress Tree

Image by W.Baumgartner

By Karen Boness, Owner of Wild Willow Landscape Design, ISA Certified Arborist, Certified Permaculture Designer

Leyland Cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a large, fast-growing, evergreen conifer that can easily reach 60-80’ in height and 20’ wide. It has a natural pyramidal shape and elegant, dark green, fine-textured foliage. When they become too large or unsightly, trimming Leyland Cypress trees becomes necessary.

Leyland Cypress Pruning

Leyland Cypress is often used as a quick screen because it can grow up to 4 feet per year. It makes an excellent windbreak or property boundary border. Because it is so large, it can quickly outgrow its space. For this reason, the native East Coast specimen looks best on large lots where it is allowed to maintain its natural form and size.

Since Leyland Cypress grows so wide, do not plant them too close together. Space them at least 8 feet apart. Otherwise, the overlapping, scraping branches can wound the plant and, therefore, leave an opening for disease and pests.

In addition to proper location and spacing, pruning Leyland Cypress is occasionally needed – especially if you don’t have enough room or if it’s outgrown the allotted space.

How to Trim a Leyland Cypress Tree

Pruning Leyland Cypress into a formal hedge is a common practice. The tree can take severe pruning and trimming. If you are wondering when to prune Leyland Cypress, then summer is your best time frame.

During the first year, trim the top and sides to start forming the shape you desire. During the second and third year, trim just the side branches that have wandered out too far to maintain and encourage foliage density.

Leyland Cypress pruning changes once the tree reaches the desired height. At that point, annually trim the top six to twelve inches below the desired height. When it regrows, it will fill in more thickly.

Note: Take heed where you cut. If you cut into bare brown branches, the green leaves will not regenerate.

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