We live in southern Alberta, south of Lethbridge. We have a 5 acre farmyard that had multiple gorgeous Blue Spruce trees that were well maintained for 20 years. The trees were thick, lush, and magnificent.

About 5 years ago we suffered a flood in our farmyard and the water did not recede fully for a week or two and even then the soil was saturated for a good period of time. By the next spring our trees had lost half of their needles and were in sad shape. It is five years later and they survived and have recovered somewhat but are not the thick beautiful trees they once were.

Is there any pruning method or other remedy we could attempt to help the trees restore to their former thickness?

2 Answers 2


Sadly, I'm not sure you can. Whilst its possible to prune these trees, new growth will only occur at the tips of the branches, so cutting back or pruning may involve shortening branches, but never cutting back to dead parts. Once a branch has died back and all the needles gone, it will not regrow. Given the fact the trees were sitting in water logged soil for some time, this may have caused root rot to set in, which could be why they look so unhappy now. I recommend you seek the advice of a tree surgeon (arborist), who should be able to say whether the trees are affected by rot, and if not, whether anything can be done to make them look better.


As the knowledgeable Bamboo points out new growth in most evergreens only occurs at the tips of new growth. No pruning or fertilizing will change the overall appearance.

There are a few things you could consider. If your property flooded once it could do so again. Why not plant some new trees in front of the spruce that like wet flooded soil?

The tamarack (Larix laricina) or larch is native to Alberta and does well in boggy or moist well drained soils. Every fall it's needles change colour to a lovely golden yellow. It then drops these needles which occasions a few panicky calls every year.

Where I live you can buy a 2 foot tall (60 cm) potted plant for less than $20.00 retail.

If you buy seven of them and plant them in front of the blue spruce you would get fall colour and a plant that likes wet soil. Tamarack do not tolerate shade so these would replace your blue spruce as they age out.

  • I think your advice is honest, planting trees that prefer the conditions is probably the best solution. Would it be safer to remove the rotting trees first before planting other trees?
    – Viv
    May 2, 2016 at 23:28
  • @Viv the question does not say the trees are rotting, only that they don't look as nice as they did. Without a site plan it's hard to say
    – kevinskio
    May 3, 2016 at 0:23
  • Please add pictures. If you have preflood pictures that would be great to add. Show the soils. Do you have drainage? What kind of soil do you have?
    – stormy
    May 3, 2016 at 21:26
  • @stormy can you add your comment to the question? The original poster will be notified then. They may not read a comment on an answer.
    – kevinskio
    May 4, 2016 at 9:49
  • Hi there kevinsky...I am having a senior moment or something but not sure I understand what you are asking...hey you've been doing some incredible answering on this site btw!! Kudos!
    – stormy
    May 7, 2016 at 19:18

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