How to Prune a Leyland Cypress

Опубликовал Admin
25-12-2020, 23:10
A Leyland cypress can be a great addition to your yard! All it takes is a little work to keep it looking great. Trim the plant every spring and summer to prevent it from growing too tall or wide. Also, remove any dead or damaged branches to keep your cypress healthy. With regular maintenance, you can grow a Leyland cypress as a decorative tree or a privacy hedge.

Pruning a Growing Cypress

  1. Eliminate most side shoots in April the first year. Your pruning tasks begin the first spring after you put the cypress in the ground. At the beginning of the growing season, look for the central, vertical branch at the plant’s center. Select 3 or 4 of the side branches to keep as leaders. Use a pair of loppers to sever any other branches at the base.
    • The branches you choose should be the biggest, strongest ones, spaced out evenly along the cypress’ central branch.
  2. Trim the cypress’ sides in July. During the summer after that first spring, locate a pair of sharp pruning shears. Your cypress will be growing thick branches that are all wildly different lengths. Give the cypress a quick haircut by trimming the ends of the branches. Cut sparingly, keeping the branches an even length.
    • The cypress should look neat for the winter month. Its thick branches shield it from winter damage.
  3. Reduce the number of sides shoot in April of the second year. By the second year, you will probably notice your Leyland cypress’ ability to grow. Even though the plant will be a lot taller, it's growth won’t be thick enough yet. Find the 3 or 4 branches you saved earlier, then use loppers to sever the longest branches around it.
    • Leave a few of the smaller, younger shoots on each main branch.
    • Cutting off the oldest, longest side shoots can cause more thick growth around the main branches.
  4. Trim the cypress’ sides yearly until it reaches the desired height. After the second round of pruning, all you need to do is give your cypress regular haircuts. Use your shears to prune the branches, keeping them even and at a desirable length. You can do this anytime from April through August and may need to do this up to 3 times a year to maintain the cypress.
    • Avoid cutting the top of the central branch, since this will hinder its growth.
  5. Shorten leading branches in spring after they reach the desired height. Reach up to the top of your cypress. Given how quickly a Leyland cypress can extend out of your reach, you may need to set up a stepladder. Find the central, vertical branches hidden in the growth, then use loppers to prune each branch 6 in (15 cm) shorter than the final height you want the cypress to be.
    • These branches grow back, eventually forming a thick top.
    • If the cypress reaches full height after spring, wait until the following spring to trim the central branches.

Maintaining Leyland Cypress

  1. Perform routine trimming in April through August. Spring and summer are the growing seasons for Leyland cypress plants. You can trim the plant throughout this period, but you are better off saving heavy pruning for the beginning of spring. Cutting the plant after August leaves it exposed to harsh winter weather, which can kill your cypress.
    • Brown needles are a sign of winter damage. If new growth doesn’t replace the needles, you will need to prune the branch below the brown coloring.
  2. Trim the top and sides 2 to 3 times during the growing season. Cypress plants need regular buzzes to keep them within their yard boundaries. Using clippers, cut the ends of all the long branches. Make them even so your cypress looks neat and pleasant. Plan on doing this several times throughout the spring and summer.
    • For example, you might trim the cypress in April, July, and then August.
    • Leyland cypress has a tremendous growth rate. If you do not trim it regularly, it can get large and hard to control.
  3. Shape cypress hedges into an inverted wedge so light reaches its base. The ideal shape for a Leyland cypress is an A. That may seem odd, but the wider base prevents the plant’s bottom from rotting. You can shape the cypress while you trim it annually with clippers and while you prune long branches with shears.
    • If you grow the cypress as a hedge, you can trim its top flat.
    • A Leyland cypress will grow this way naturally. You only have to perform regular trimming to prevent the plant from overgrowing if you have a limited amount of yard space.
  4. Remove damaged branches as you notice them. Always look for weak branches. They may appear dark brown, black, or splintered. These branches may simply be damaged, or they may be a sign of disease. Using a sharp pair of loppers or shears, cut the branch below the damaged portion.
    • You can prune damaged branches throughout the entire year, so take care of them as soon as you notice them to prevent problems from spreading.

Pruning an Overgrown Cypress

  1. Reduce the cypress to ⅓ of its size in April if it is overgrown. Prune the cypress back in early spring so it has plenty of time to rebound before winter. Cut back all of the branches with loppers, keeping them even. Be careful to avoid cutting the branches too short. You can always trim them again when they grow back.
    • Scraggly, neglected, and giant cypress plants often benefit from severe pruning.
    • If you missed trimming your cypress the year before, you may need to prune it this way.
  2. Avoid cutting down to the leafless part of the branches. Severe pruning is risky if you take it lightly. Dig into the plant’s foliage to find the bare wood on each branch. If you cut to this point, which is below the last leaf on the branch, the cypress will not be able to grow back.
    • If you cut the branches too short, you may start seeing bare spots. These spots cannot be fixed, so be careful!
    • Cutting the top too short can kill older or slow-growing cypress plants.
  3. Cut the cypress down by ½ if it is still long after it regrows. Give the cypress time to thicken again after reducing it to ⅓ of its original size. It will then have a better chance of surviving if you need to cut it back again with loppers. Be careful, since you will have a higher chance of cutting the cypress down to bare wood this time.
    • Reducing the cypress a second time is rarely necessary and should be done only if your cypress is in bad condition.


  • Cypress is a tree, so it needs to be trimmed regularly to be kept as a hedge.
  • Trim cypress every year to prevent it from overgrowing.
  • Sterilize your shears with isopropyl alcohol before and after every use, especially if you cut diseased branches.
  • Check the local growing laws in your area. Some areas have regulations on how high you can grow a cypress.
  • Wear durable gardening gloves whenever you prune to help protect your hands and improve your grip on your pruning tools.


  • Avoid cutting down to bare wood, or else your cypress will not regrow.

Things You’ll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Loppers
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning clippers
  • Isopropyl alcohol
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