Prune an Eastern Red Cedar: Tips and Tricks

Pruning is the process through which you eliminate dead or overgrown leaves on a plant. In this case, we will let you in on all the information you need to know to prune an Eastern Red Cedar tree! Keep reading to learn more!

What Is an Eastern Red Cedar?

Prune an Eastern Red Cedar

The Eastern Red Cedar is a tree belonging to the evergreen juniper family. It grows to about 40 – 50 feet tall at maturity. 

These trees are considered ancient trees. They have been traced back to early America. Early history shows they get mentioned by settlers of Roanoke Island in the 1500s as the tallest and reddest cedars in the world. 

They like the sun, develop deep roots, tolerate heat and wind, and grow in a columinal or pyramidal shape. Eastern Red Cedars have scale-like evergreen leaves that are compacted to form rounded branchlets. These branchlets can also be 4-sided.

When to Prune an Eastern Red Cedar?

It is best to prune an Eastern Red Cedar in the early spring to midsummer months. That is because the new buds are still concealed, and you will not risk removing them, even with heavy pruning and shearing

One rule of thumb to follow is to not trim the tree after July 15. Trims after that date result in the removal of the buds that form the following year’s growth. 

If you cut it after that date and the buds are no longer on the tree, the tree will have to create new buds. That weakens the tree and makes it more vulnerable to infection or disease.

How to Prune an Eastern Red Cedar?

Prune an Eastern Red Cedar

First, be sure you are wearing safety goggles, gloves, and closed-toed shoes! To begin, cut the lowest branches first, then cut branches that might restrict access to larger branches. Stand back and observe the tree after each cut. This way, you are sure it is keeping the shape you want. 

Cut limbs only to where they meet the trunk. If you cut them even with or flush to the tree trunk, you risk disease in the tree. For a natural shape, trim low-hanging branches to where they grow upward. If the tree is getting too tall, you can shorten it. However, do not shorten it to more than ¼ of its height. 

As always, clean up after yourself! Discard limbs and debris. Do not remove more than 6-12 inches of green growth. Doing so will result in your tree looking bare for a long time. 

You also might notice a dead zone in the Eastern Red Cedar. Avoid touching this zone during the pruning process.

Why Do You Prune an Eastern Red Cedar?

Fortunately, these trees do not need much pruning. However, if you want the tree to look more plump and healthy, pruning the top buds frequently will result in promoted growth in the lateral buds. 

Pruning excessively dense areas will help improve the tree’s internal ventilation and light permeability. It also reduces the chance of pests and subsequent infections. 

You can also use pruning as an avenue to rid the tree of pest-infested or diseased branches. In the winter, prune these areas of the tree. Winter is the best time for this because it is dormant.


Now that you know the ins and outs of pruning an Eastern Red Cedar, you can keep the ones in your yard or landscape design in tip-top shape! Follow the rules of thumb as it relates to pruning the tree, and you will be pleased with the outcome and blessed with a healthy tree.