How to prune trees for the Railroad Garden
by Joe Mortillaro

As presented during the COGRA's 2011 AGM

The backbone of most garden railways scenery are trees. Dwarf Alberta Spruce is perhaps the most
outstanding tree for this use. It especially can be convincingly pruned to resemble old growth forest trees.
More than anything else, trees pruned in this fashion can add a sense of scale and drama to the garden
railway. To make them look like scale trees you must start at the bottom and remove at least 25% of the
branches to expose the trunk. Then work your way up and remove every third branch or so at random. This will
create spaces between the branches. You want the lower branches to look heavy and old and pointing out
or slightly down a bit. When removing the whole branch it is important to cut as close to the trunk as possible.
Once you have done this you can go ahead and thin the branches and cut the tips off. After that they only need
to be pruned once a year. You can prune them in late fall but the best time is after then spring growth when you
want them to look their best for the summer. This treatment really changes the character of the tree and will
make a dramatic statement in your garden railway. Other conifers can also lend themselves to the same kind of
Below is a demonstration of pruned trees in Joe's Garden Railroad