For five of the trees, this was the second pruning. They had gotten to look just a little too much like Dr. Seuss trees--top heavy with long, pointy branches of wispy leaves. The sixth tree/bush-trosity had never been pruned. It squatted on the side lawn like a great green cave. My grandchildren used to hide beneath the branches, and, at one point it was home for a cottontail or two. There was no way to get a mower to the underside of it.
After we cut all the bottom branches away, it looked like this. It seems small in this picture, but imagine me, trying to reach the top to tweak off an unruly leaf or two--I can't, ok, and that's why they are still there! We collected four large garbage bags full of vintage leaves and needles from around the base. (notice the large, brown bare spot) Then I painted all the chopped spots where bare wood was showing. At first, I used paint, but, since I liked the look of the natural grain, I switched to varnish. The job took a couple of days, not because we are wimps, but because it's simply too hot out there to work after mid-morning and before sun-down. Well, we could be wimps too, but hey, we did it!