The GTA suffered from a serious wind storm that took shingles off roof tops, toppled limbs off of trees and uprooted many a tree within my neighbourhood.
This is our neighbour's Spruce. Two limbs went straight into their back window. It could of been so much worse!
A common denominator that I've noticed: each had their limbs lifted to quite a height off the ground.
I get it - folks want to have clearance and to enjoy perhaps shade or what not under the tree. But doing this practice isn't encouraging optimum plant health.
These evergreen trees aren't supposed to have growth and branches only on the top 1/2 to 3/4 of the tree.
Removing the branches from the bottom half, makes the above growth act as a sail of sorts - which puts added pressure at the base of the tree. Once you remove the branches, foot traffic at the base of these pruned evergreens just compacts the soil and allows the base to dry out.
Evergreens should have a "skirt" to protect the root mass below and to shield the trunk from heavy winds.
Trees pruned like the ones above have no defence mechanism to bear the weight and force of wind.
The skirt protects the base of the tree from drying out. Needles, fall cast and cones are nature's own mulch. They help keep moisture locked in, enabling the tree to flourish despite drought conditions.
The wind flows all the way around the tree as apposed to through it when trees have a skirt. This stabilizes the tree and keeps it at bay.
So if you're interested in planting an evergreen, give it ample space to sprawl out and allow it to spread to its natural width and breadth. Don't limb it up and park your car close by.
Or, you'll have a hefty arborist bill awaiting the next time we have one of these storms.