Homegrown: Spruce next to aspen
I have a 20-foot spruce tree in my yard that has an aspen growing a few feet away. The side of the spruce facing the aspen is not developing (the branches are not growing out). It looks like I only have half of a spruce tree. Should I remove the aspen, and if I do, will the flat side of the spruce fill back out?
Thanks for your help.
Your spruce tree is doing what is natural. When a plant is growing right next to another plant, it’ll lose its foliage on that side.
There’s just not enough light for the plant to grow there so the tree “abandons” those areas to grow elsewhere. It’s really not hurting the spruce to lose that side. It’s compensating with growth from its other side.
That dead side is probably more noticeable this time of year when the aspen drops its leaves.
If it looks good the rest of the year and looking at that naked side doesn’t bother you too much, it’s OK to leave things as they are.
However, if you want to change things, then you could cut down the aspen.
The spruce tree will grow back to fill the blank area, but it could take several years. Exactly how long it takes will depend on the size of the bare area.
The bare branches you have now won’t resprout. They are mostly likely dead. Branches from the sides will eventually grow in to fill the area.
When is the proper time to trim a fairly large limb from a globe willow?
I think you can do this just about any time you want, except for September and October (pruning then can stimulate succulent new growth at a time when you don’t want the tree to grow, you want it to be going dormant).
I like to do most of my pruning on deciduous plants (those that lose leaves over the winter) during the dormant season.
The advantage is that I can more clearly see the branching structure of the plant and can make better decisions as to what and how much to cut. There’s really nothing wrong with doing it in the middle of summer, and I’ve done that, it’s just that if I can plan ahead, I like to see exactly what I’m doing because it’s hard to put a branch back on the tree once you’ve cut it off.
Some people like to wait until early in the spring to do any pruning, and there is a little advantage to that.
Pruning now will leave a big open wound that can dry out over the winter. This sometimes results in some minor die back, especially in smaller twigs.
Pruning in mid- to late March leaves the wound open for a shorter period of time because the tree is about to break dormancy and will start healing the wound more quickly.
Frankly, I think that the advantage is slight enough not to worry about it that much.