1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Can I trim these?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by maple1, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    [​IMG]

    Planted these 10 years or so ago. I forget what they are - I think a cedar - but they've grown a lot more than the tag said they would which I do remember was maximum height of 6.5 feet.

    Anyway, anything to worry about before I go looking for a hedge trimmer? Safe to do? Good or bad time of year to do it? Good or bad way to do it?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    Any conifer can be trimmed. The best time to do it is in the spring after they are done pushing off new growth. Just don't cut out the "leader" otherwise it will go all topiary on you.

    They will get significantly "fuller' once you start trimming them too...so if you like the "whispy" look that will be a thing of the past.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    What does that mean?

    (Hmm, not seeing my picture now for some reason...)

    (Ooops, there it is...)
  4. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,778
    Loc:
    mid-ohio
    I know you "can" trim them, not sure if you "should"
    that is the extent of my gardening knowledge.
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    The leader is the "center" branch the comes straight up from the trunk. If you cut it out it will form one or more leaders and go every which way, instead of one leader going straight up.
    ScotO likes this.
  6. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Messages:
    2,289
    Loc:
    SW Virginia
    Those look to me like Arborvitae. You can prune, and they'll probably live, but their form is tough to maintain with pruning.
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    They stayed at about the height of the railing for a few years, then kaboom over the last couple. There were no branches poking through the step railing this spring. They will get fuller than this with trimming? Darn, how full can a tree get...
  8. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,400
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Leader is the main stem sort of dillio.
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,859
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    This type of tree/bush is known for fast growing and screening ability. If you wanted a bush that stays small then you planted the wrong thing.
    ScotO likes this.
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I wanted what the tag said on it when I bought it - grows to 6 1/2 feet tall.

    Thanks for the input.
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,400
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Could be a dwarfish variety. Looks like it got to "at least 6 1/2 feet" :)
  12. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    Pic just showed up for me. Not what I had pictured but the advise I gave earlier still holds true.

    That's arborvitae, but there are many different varieties. Some are dwarf varieties and others are giant varieties. If you planted these 10 years ago they are a dwarf variety, so you're OK there. I will say that I'm not familiar with some hardier varieties you may have up there in the Canada.

    Think of it this way...they are too big and are in the way. They either need cut back or removed. I would cut them back with hedge trimmers or some good shears...let them go for a while. If they are get ugly, pull them out and plant something else. Worst case scenario you're out $40 or $50 replacing them. Best case you prune them and they look pretty not bad for 5-10 more years.

    Pruning almost any plant will stimulate growth, so once you start pruning you have to keep doing it.
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I wasn't sure about the age so just went through pics on my HD. I took one 8 years ago and they were there then and about maybe 1.5 ft. tall (just up to the deck floor). So they're likely not quite 10 years old.

    Think I'll start the hedge trimmer lookout.
  14. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Neighbor has some of those that were small a very long time ago. Now they are every bit of 40 feet tall! Very ugly, dirty trees. I'm hoping to talk her into letting me "dismember" them this winter or spring. I'll put a nice fence up (and pay the tab) if she lets me get them gone!
  15. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,632
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    I planted about 30 of these in place of a fence. Got tired of trimming them, Some are about 30 Ft tall now.Most are over 20. A few canadian hemlocks mixed in.
  16. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    'at least' - they should have put those words on the tag. It read like that would be its full grown height.

    These 30-40 feet stories are killing me here - I'll worry about that in the future. For now they're a reason to get another power tool.

    EDIT: Here they were in late fall of 2004. They look innocent enough there - almost dead actually:

    [​IMG]
  17. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,471
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    Well that arborvitae certainly got to 6.5 feet.
    You can shear it back. It'll look better if done in the Spring.
    It'll just grow right back pretty quick though seeking equalibrium with root mass.
    Having had 50 year old arborvitaes get to 40 feet and 12 feet wide then the deer decimate them (they don't grow back when foraged to the trunk)
    I'd yank it out before the roots got any bigger and plant a pencil holly or tall skinny dwarf alberta spruce (jeans dilly maybe)


    I have a dark green very slow growing arborvitae on the side of my house that is now at ten feet and it's time to yank it out and start over.
    It did take 30 years to get too big though.
  18. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,759
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    Thanks - sounds like I should get a back up plan ready too for a couple years out. Maybe try transplanting out in the yard somewhere? (Have access to a mini-excavator). If they don't survive it no biggie - although now wondering what the roots are doing is likely a bigger consideration.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,619
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
  20. rwhite

    rwhite Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    SW Idaho
    Arborvitae are worst than most shrubs but the same hold true. The plant has to put it's growth somewhere. As they mature they get thick and no sunlight gets into the trunk. Not only does it kill the inner leaves it forces the growth up (all the nutrients are going to less leaf area). This is going to be a multiple year pruning project but you have to open it up.

Share This Page