Norwegian Spruce

marionanaAugust 28, 2007

We just cut off about 6 feet of the lower branches on our two Norwegian spruce trees (30 to 35 feet high). We were forced to prune them because they were touching our house causing dampness and mildew on our shutters and blocking out the sunlight in the living room.

My question is some of the surface roots are visible and the ground slopes lower close to the base of the trees. My husband wants to throw shade grass on top and leave it at that. I feel we should level off the surface and cover the roots and with top soil before applying the grass seeds. He's afraid the soil will kill the tree.

I forgot to mention I put tar on the cut branches. Guess it's a little late to ask if that was the right thing to do..???

Thank you for any advice you can give....:-)

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No, putting tar on the brances was a bad idea and so is putting lawn seed beneath the tree. What it would really like for you to do is put some mulch under it. About 3" of it an no more than that. Perhaps a light dusting of compost can be used in severe cases of surface roots.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 9:20AM
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I would not do anything to alter the soil near the tree. I would not put any extra soil over the roots (except maybe a little soil high in organic content to keep any lawn mower from clipping the exposed roots when the grass is mowed--no more), and I would not try to level anything out either. Planting grass under a Norway spruce tree may or may not work--grass does not grow well under Norway spruce trees unless there is a lot of light from the sides. But there is no harm in spreading a little grass seed and seeing if it takes. The best thing may be to mulch around the tree.

As for the tar--not a good idea. When Norway spruce limbs are pruned off there is no need for any treatment unless the limbs are very large. I doubt a 35 foot tree would have any limbs large enough to need treatment with anything when pruned. If you left any stub when you cut the branches, you could cut the stub off and that will remove the tar. Or you could just scrape off what you can and leave it at that. In any case, the tar will not kill the tree. The only danger is that the tar will trap some moisture (that is already in the tree and the wood) and make it more susceptible to fungal rot. But the susceptibility should be low in any case. I would not worry much about it.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 9:29AM
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Oh my goodness, I should of posted before we tared the branches. My husband cut the branches off extremely close to the trunk. The thickest branches were about 4-6 inches, most were much thinner.

The two trees take up half the front lawn, their next to each other, doesn't look very attractive, very bare. If we lose these trees I'll be very upset, we planted them when they were 4 ft. They may be taller than 35-40 feet, hard to tell, should of asked my husband before I posted...:-)

Guess he was right, what else is new...LOL

Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it!!!! First time posting here, I'm looking forward to checking in everyday!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 3:27AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I wouldn;t plant grass under it,not even shade lawn as grass takes up a lot of water and may just dry the trees roots out. Plus I have noticed with a lot of conifers the soil near the base is nearly always bone dry so I doubt the grass would do well. I doubt the tar would do any harm other than looking unsightly-personaly I use vaseline if pruning any large branches but conifers produce resin which i would imagine would seal the wound anyway.
Good luck with the tree :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 1:27PM
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Thanks for getting back to me, Greenlarry...all the way from the UK, cool!

I'll remember the vaseline tip...your right, the polka dots left from the tar looks rather unattractive on the trunks. Oh well, I'll know better next time...:-)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 7:09AM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Have you considered removing one of the spruce?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 4:09PM
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Hi Waplummer....I wouldn't know which one to give up, I'd hate to part with either one. I feel down the road if one gets hit with lighting or a disease, we have the other for backup. The first thing I check after a bad lightning storm is these trees...we live in upstate NY, in the mountains, in the woods.

We planted the trees seventeen years ago, I've gotten pretty attached to them...:-) Silly, huh!

Thanks for your help..much appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 2:14AM
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Actually, pruning cuts are best left with no treatment at all. Let the tree seal it in its own way with its own resins.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 12:29PM
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Too late, we already tarred the branches...looks terrible, black polka dots. Wish I read greenlarrys post to use vaseline before we decided to tar. Would you believe I called a guy who owns a huge tree farm nearby to get his advice...??? He told us to tar, he did ask about how many branches we would be removing, maybe he felt we were cutting alot at once and they would seep too much...???

Thanks for getting back to me pineresin, much appreciated!!!!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 6:48PM
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