How to Prune an Evergreen With Sun Damage

Evergreen trees are susceptible to winter sun damage just like deciduous trees.

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Sun damage occurs on an evergreen primarily during the winter months. When the sun hits the trunk and branches of the tree, the inner tissue that makes up the living part of the tree, gets active, thinking that it’s time to start growing again. Unfortunately, once the sun goes away, the air cools too quickly and the tissue is damaged. This causes scorch-like marks on the trunk, and discolored and dead branches. The damage must be removed once springtime rolls around in order to keep the tree healthy.

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Set up the ladder at the base of the tree if needed. Check the tree or shrub for branches with dead (brown) needles and cracked and sunken oval-shaped patches of bark. These are sun-damaged sections that must be removed.


Slice off the damaged branches in three steps. Make the first cut approximately 12 to 16 inches away from where the branch grows out of the trunk by chopping halfway through the bottom side of the branch at a 60-degree angle.


Make the second cut from above the damaged branch, also at a 60-degree angle. It needs to be 1 to 2 inches past the first cut on the opposite side of the tree trunk and should slice fully through the branch.


Chop the remaining stub of the branch off at a 45 degree angle. This cut needs to be just outside of the branch collar where the branch grows out of the trunk.


Cut away the sun-damaged bark by slicing into the trunk of the tree with a knife. Remove an oval-shaped patch of the damaged outer layers until you see healthy greenish-colored inner tissue.

Tips & Warnings

Be careful in order to avoid getting hurt by the tree branches that you have just removed.

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ReferencesVirginia Tech; A Guide to Successful Pruning, Pruning Evergreen Trees; Susan C. French, et al.University of Minnesota; Protecting Trees and Shrubs Against Winter Damage; Bert T. Swanson, et al.Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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