Save time removing old, browning conifers by transforming them into a new garden feature by pruning.
Brown in the centre?
Remove the small dead branches, especially those form the centre, to reveal the shapes of the main branches. Cut off a few of the lower, larger branches so that you can underplant the conifer with ground-cover plants that tolerate dry shade, including vinca, Geranium (Cranesbill) and Lamium.
Brown at the base?
Variegated ivy or Periwinkle (Vinca) planted at the base of the tree will use the brown. lower branches as aclimbing frame.
Transform a conifer into a standard by removing all branches up to 1.5 metres (5 feet)- or lower if desired- and then lightly trim the top to shape.
Source: ‘Short cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest 1999
Old School Gardener