Can anyone identify what type of shrub this is and what it is called? Here
are two photos:
I have several of these at a property in Eastern Pennsylvania (in Lower
Bucks County). They are way too big and overgrown for where they are
located on the property and I would like to cut them way back if possible.
It may be the wrong time of year to do that now, and it may be that if I cut
them way back it will take too long for them to recover and look half way
But, if I could identify exactly what type of shrub it is, maybe I could do
a little more research on how and when to trim them etc.
They are some kind of Arbor Vitae, I think. They will take a crapload
of abuse. you might be able to just hack them down to size if you
can live with some scraggle for a year or two.
Better yet, if you found a landscaper who needed a couple that size,
they might be able to yank yours out and put some smaller ones in.
There is a local guy that has a giant shovel that transplants 20-30'
trees with a minimum of fuss. Might be too close to your house to
use that-- but a decent landscaper can tell you for sure.
Agree. Definitely an arbor vitae. Given the rounded shape,
I would think it could be a globe arbor vitae. The bad news is
that once they are that size there it;s not practical to get them
cut way back in size. The green growth is at the perimeter and
it will look like hell. And from the location, I would agree
they need to be cut way back, like to 50% at least. Like Jim said,
they can take a lot of abuse, so when you trim them isn't critical.
The good news is that if you want to start over, nurseries are
having Fall blowouts and these aren't expensive. I could
get new ones, about 2ft in size for $10 -15 now in NJ.
The bad news is that if you want to put them back in the
same spot, digging out the old ones is gonna be the hard
part. But that is what day laborers are good at....
On 11/14/2011 11:34 AM, email@example.com wrote:
The really good news if that is the idea/ok, you can simply cut them
back for nothing. See last para. of
There were several here that did that at least three times I can recall.
Eventually took them out because they were simply too large a plant
for the location, but they would have gone through the cycle indefinitely.
...and on a somewhat related note....
I was watching Ask This Old House this weekend. Roger Cook was helping
a homeowner remove an overgrown shrub.
I don't recall the name of the very alive shrub that he cut down to
ground level, but his comment was "We don't have to remove the stump,
it will never sprout. We'll just plant around it." He used a chain saw
to cut the multi-trunked stump flush with ground level.
Why wouldn't *any* previously healthy shrub try to regenerate itself?
I don't think I've ever been able to just cut something down to the
ground and not have it grow back.
I recall a certain pussy willow bush that I cut back for years before
I finally busted out the shovel, ax and pick and removed every last
trace of the rotting stump to stop the annual regrowth.
I also recall a mimosa tree whose roots shot up lines of sprouts all
over my yard even after the stump had been cut free and dragged away.
I ended up having to dig up the yard and pull the entire root system
to stop the sprouts.
What kind of shrub could Roger have cut back that will never sprout
See Han's post.
I think that's where I was headed as that was what I understood from
Pruning will allow new growth - both from the pruned branches and from
the newly exposed interior.
Maybe it's that you need "brachpoints" for new growth, which you don't
have when you cut the thick branches off at the ground.
The main reason I ask is that we are considering removing some shrubs
from in front of our house and putting in a raised flower garden built
with landscape blocks.
If I can just cut the shrubs down to current ground level and then
bury them in a foot or so of dirt without worrying that they'll show
up again in a few years, that sure would beat trying to remove all of
I did...he's right (and wrong at the same time). Whether that happens
(regenerant from inside growth) is dependent on what the particular
species is--many do, some don't.
Again, it depends upon what they are, specifically.
If you know (or can find that out), then the question can be answered,
pretty much definitively.
However, for most woody shrubs, even those that would otherwise
regenerate, it's highly likely the extra depth over their previously
established depth would prevent them from coming up. You can kill a
healthy tree by piling dirt up around it too much.
Otoh, other things more vine'y things like wisteria and honeysuckle,
even though they may main branches that are quite sizable, have a pretty
good penchant for coming up from roots as do other species of trees like
willows, many of the "trashy" elms like Siberian or Chinese, etc., etc., ...
It all depends on just what the particular nature of the beastie in
That'll depend on the kind of shrub. Like someone said, it's the genes.
Some things like wisteria or honeysuckle could come back fairly easily,
others like arbor vitae won't. I know the vines are genetically far
removed from arbor vitae <grin>.
I just finished watching an episode of this old house hour, where some 3
arbor vitae were cut down to the ground by Roger using a chainsaw. He
claimed they wouldn't come back. A huge rhododendron was pruned back
rather severely but allowing branches to keep a leaf or so. All this was
done in spring in MA. I believe the episode aired here a few days ago.
Like arbor vitae varieties, tsuga varieties are often used for hedges.
If you cut tsuga too far back, it will look dead for years. Perhaps it
can grow back a bit eventually, but if you want to severely prune these
types of bushes, you may have to be rather judicious and first prune
something like every other branch. Then 1. the plant can still grow, and
2. light penetrating to the insides can stimulate new growth from
branchpoints futther inside. Depending on the bush, YMMV! Ask some
expert, probably best to ask more than 1 ...
Thanks everyone. Looks like the answer is "globe arborvitae" as most
suggested. I did a Google search and the images show everyone is correct
and that is what I have.
Here's one excerpt that I found about pruning them:
"One of the best features of arborvitaes is their tolerance of being sheared
on a regular basis, making them good candidates for formal plantings and
hedges. They should be pruned in early summer (right after the new growth
has fully expanded) and they can be pruned again in mid- to late-August. The
key to keeping pruned arborvitaes looking good for years and years is to
start early and stay after them. If you want to keep them pruned to a four
foot hedge, don't wait until they are five feet and try to hold them back.
Starting before they reach the desired size encourages good thick growth and
Looks like the only realistic option for me would be to remove what I have
and plant new ones. I definitely waited way too long to get around to
dealing with cutting back what I have.
I'm with dpb on this. You might not have much luck cutting them
back to 1/2 their current size as it would leave a lot of big woody
leafless branches to support. But if you cut them to the ground it
will send up shoots which will look good the second year and probably
be the right size in 3-4.
Just be aware that if you go to remove them, you will need to dig 3-4
deep and a foot or two bigger than the diameter of the bush. And it
won't be easy digging.
Put a couple large annuals in front of the scraggly stump until it
looks nice-- spend the digging time on ahr.
They would survive the massive pruning; only as you say would be
butt-ugly, however, as they would send out new growth much like a
severely topped tree does.
OTOH, from a fresh start it will be essentially as if planted a new
specimen in a short time.
On 11/14/2011 3:47 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
We cut specimens back here numerous times over some 40 years. And I'll
wager the climate is far harsher and less forgiving than OP's. The only
reason they're no longer here is finally got tired of doing so as they
were simply too large for the space and so took them out entirely
(leaving nothing in their place).
It won't take long at all for them to regenerate to quite nice small
plantings and they'll have well established roots far beyond those of
the new ones to boot making them far more drought tolerant, etc., etc., ...
The initial cost may not be that much, the effort to remove the old ones
is likely substantial and there is really no need whatsoever if the
intent is to replace them w/ the same thing.
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