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alvan1

Can I/How do I cut back this tree?

alvan1
3 years ago

Is this an Arborvitae? I have 2 right by my front door. I was told when I bought them that they wouldn’t get too tall, but they have grown quickly and one is butting against our roofline and both trees have growth that no longer “hugs” itself so branches are bumping into other plants/home. I don’t want to hurt the trees, but is it ok to take some growth off the top and sides? TIA! :)


Comments (15)

  • PRO
    Flores Artscape
    3 years ago

    Do you have a photo? Looks like it didn't upload with your post!

  • Embothrium
    3 years ago

    The problem is that as so often happens you were given a false depiction of the growth potential of your trees, and they have gone on to exceed the available space - your best bet is to remove them and replace with something more suitable.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    3 years ago

    Agree with the above. Once arborvitae reach a significant size and decrepitude (hanging or off-growth of branches), pruning can do very little to improve their looks and more often than not, just makes them look worse. Very likely past time for removal and replacement.

    A photo will help but most likely just confrim that their usefulness and attractiveness is beyond redemption.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    3 years ago

    "I was told when I bought them ..." Being told the wrong thing about plants is a common occurrence for a multitude of reasons.

    • plants are a "moving target" that change over time. It's hard to know everything about them the longer they live.
    • some shady sellers know that you and they will be separated by much time, by the time you discover the truth.
    • some sellers and/or their employees simply don't know. There are thousands of plants, new ones coming on board all the time. Education about plants is going to vary wildly. Many designers don't know what the plants they use will do long term.
    • perception among people, even professional, educated people in the field, varies substantially because we all have different experiences with plants. You will see divergent opinions about facts frequently within this forum.
  • alvan1
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Thank you for all of the feedback! (I love this forum!) Sorry about the pic-I thought it attached. I'm going to try again here.


  • alvan1
    Original Author
    3 years ago



  • alvan1
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    And I could be completely wrong about what type of tree this is, BTW! If it is another type of tree and/or if that changes any of th recommendations, please let me know! :)

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    3 years ago

    Carol could be correct :-) That looks very much like a Hollywood juniper rather than an arborvitae. In which case, it has the potential to get much larger than it already is and those wildly erratic branches - one of that tree's primary features - will continue to develop and bump into the house. I really like Hollywoods - far more interesting and much less common than your standard arborvitae - but it is not in the correct location for both its size and continued potential development. You could prune it I suppose........but it would wreck its current good looks to do so, as well as alter its natural growth habit.

    I think you need to bite the bullet and remove. The situation is only going to get worse.

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    3 years ago

    moving from the tip inward... you should be able to tell annual growth ...


    this years is still green... last years might be light tan but still smooth ... 3rd year back.. might be thickening.. and darkening ... more bark looking... etc ...


    measure each ... and then average them out.. and you will find an annual growth rate for your ...



    lets say it growing a foot or 2 a year ... do you really think.. a light shearing is going to beat this beast back.. lol.. probably not ...


    so then you are down to a large ladder you can fall off of.. or hiring it out.. etc ...


    bottom line.. imo ... get rid of it ... its not the plant for your space ...



    im going out on a limb here.. but i bet that the kind of advice you get at a bigbox ... where your hardware man might not really know his trees ...


    but on the other hand.. if this came from a nursery...i might suggest that dude ... go get a job at the hardware store... and get out of horticulture ...


    it is not an arb ... but i dont know my warm zone alternatives ... though it could be the juniper mentioned above .. though they sure arent that aggressive in ground freeze MI

    ...


    ken




  • PRO
    Flo Mangan
    3 years ago

    I have had the Hollywood’s which surely looks like yours. They are very cool but they do get very large. I have trimmed them carefully and you can control their spread somewhat without destroying their look. In your case, in the fall, i would try moving them to a better location in your yard. They might survive. They are pretty hardy.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    3 years ago

    Voting with others who say get rid of.

  • alvan1
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Yes, it sounds like I need to move these puppies somewhere else. I think they are beautiful too, but they are going to get more troublesome the more time passes. :-/ Ken, we got them from a nursery, but the person helping me I’m fairly sure was more of an office admin and not an plant pro. I get the feeling she wanted the sale and was in the “yes” train for what I was looking for. Live and learn!

  • Embothrium
    3 years ago

    Unless you are familiar with what is involved with transplanting specimens that big, able and willing to undertake that it's not going to be feasible for you to transplant these yourself.

  • emmarene9
    3 years ago

    If you are determined to get rid of them anyway..........try your hand at topiary first.


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