Skip to Content

How to Reduce the Height of Arborvitae Tree [5 Easy Steps]

Arborvitae trees grow really fast and it’s a hassle to keep them short. If you want them to be used as a fancy fence you have to learn to maintain its height and shape. 

How to reduce the height of arborvitae?

Reducing the height of the arborvitae is really easy. With some really simple tools, you can reduce the height. But the top of the tree, but no more than afoot. Cutting too much of the top may result in a boxy shape of the tree. In that case, trim the sides off with clippers

We have detailed steps on how to reduce the height and trim your tree below.

Correct Time to Trim Your Arborvitae 

There is no exact correct time to trim your arborvitae tree. The correct time depends on the goal you want to achieve. The most possible correct time to trim arborvitae is around spring. 

If you want to shorten your arborvitae to a hedge, it is best to cut the tree after spring. The tree will be able to maintain itself after flowering. If you’re thinking of making drastic changes, it is best to cut a foot or so at the top of the tree.

Let’s say you want your arborvitae tree to be really short. It is best to cut the tree small in the winter. In the winter the plant stores most of its nutrients underground. By cutting the tree in the winter, you will be stopping its growth. The flow of nutrients flows to the leaves and the branches. 

Don’t cut your tree in the spring. Because it’s too late and may give your tree extra stress. Also, never cut too much off the top of the tree. That will make the tree look like a box. Many find that ugly looking. 

6 Steps to Reduce the Height of Your Tree

There are specific ways to reduce an arborvitae tree’s height. Otherwise, your tree might look squarish or ugly. Sometimes it is hard for the tree to go back to its natural form and stop growing continually. In that case, you have to frequently maintain the tree. 

So follow the given steps to make your tree look perfect!

Step 1: Get Yourself the Right Tools

Having the right tool for the job is really important. It also makes sure to make the process easy. 

The tools you’ll be needing are:

  • Saw
  • Tree wound healer
  • Clippers or pruning shears
  • Electrical hedge trimmer (optional)
  • Big gardening shears (optional)

These are the basic tools for tree reduction. Also, for safety measures. Get yourself gloves and eye-protectors. Branches and leaves will be flying around when you cut them. 

Are you thinking about buying pruning shears to trim arborvitae? The shears given below are really good at their job:


Shears are important for tree maintenance. But choosing between these 2 will make your job easier.  

Now that you are ready, let’s get started!

Step 2: Cut the Top off

To reduce the height of an arborvitae tree, cut the top of the tree. Be careful of cutting too much. Cutting too much of the top may result in growth stoppage. 

Cutting too much of the top will make the tree look like a box. Most people don’t like the boxy look of the arborvitae trees. 

Step 3: Prune the Sides

After you have chopped the top off. It is time to reduce down on the tree surroundings. The tree might look like it has gained some weight if you just cut the top.

Pruning the tree helps the tree look much better. Get your clippers of pruning shears to do this step. Look around the tree for any dead branches. 

There is no reason to leave a dead branch behind. Also, it might cause harm to the tree if you leave one. 

Step 4: Shape the Sides

Shaping the tree is up to your preference. Since we all have different tastes, it’s better we leave this up to you.

But if you want to shape your tree the electric hedge trimmer is the best for the job. The big gardening shears can do the job as well. 

Go a few feet back and look at the shape of your tree. This will make sure you don’t trim it too deeply. Go back a few feet every time you trim the tree. Get a good view of the tree.

Step 5: Apply Wound Healer

After height reduction and trimming, It is preferred to use some wound or prune healer on the tree. 

Apply the wound healing paste to the places you have cut down the branches. Also, apply the paste on scratched skins on the tree. Parasites and other insects can get inside the tree if there is an open wound.

This will protect your tree and give it a long life. 

Is Trimming Harmful for the Tree?

Trimming a tree might sound harmful or painful for a tree. After all, it is a living thing. But trimming or reducing height the right way is good for the tree.

Dead branches and leaves can cause fungus or parasites to grow. That will take all the nutrition out of the tree. Making the tree sick.

Using the right tool for trimming is important. Don’t use chainsaws to trim a tree. Chainsaws are for cutting a tree down


Questions: How long does it take arborvitae to grow afoot?

Answers: In a year the tree can grow 1-2 feet. Afterward, it grows 6-9 inches every year.

Question: Which time of the year is not good for trimming?

Answer: You should never trim arborvitae in the spring while it’s flowering. Do it either before or after spring. 

Question: How to take care of arborvitae?

Answer: Use normal fertilizer to fertilize the ground. Water every 2 days. Don’t water too much. Cover the tree if possible when it’s snowing. 


That is everything you need to know about how to reduce the height of arborvitae. Hopefully, that cleared up your confusion. 

You can contact professional gardeners who can help with your height reduction.
Till then, good luck with the gardening project!