My newly purchased house has two large (15') arborvitae trees in front
of a small front porch. They are so large they block out any light in
the front windows, and porch. A landscaper recommended removing them
and replacing with some boxwood. The trees are healthy, and I hate to
cut them down (not to mention the expense of hiring a landscaping
company.) Is there any way I can cut these back significantly (almost
by half)? Would it be ok to trim back a few feet a year? Or can these
trees be "topped" all at once to look more like a shrub? What would be
the best tool to use? Is it too late in the season to do anything this
year?(I live in North Eastern U.S.) This is my first house so I'm
totally new to this. Thank you so much for your help!
American arborvitae can be drastically pruned back and will recover
but can take years and will never attain its proper form... it'll live
but I doubt you will be happy with the result. I would remove them
and plant new... I would suggest globe arborvitae, or choose a compact
form juniper. There are literally hundreds of plantings that would
be suitable but without seeing a picture of your house and what kind
of space you have to work with it's difficult to suggest specifics.
Give your house a face lift, young compact foundation plantings make
an older house look newer. Often with older homes all the foundation
plantings are also old and over grown, it would be wise to remove all
and plant new... new plantings is one of the first improvements to
make when moving into an existing home, plants need time to grow...
new young shrubs are inexpensive, you only need invest a little labor.
On 6/27/2010 11:29 AM, Phisherman wrote:
I have a large emerald arborvitae that my landscaper trims the
width/girth of, though not the height, to keep it in bounds where it's
hiding an unsightly meter on the front of my house. It's robustly
healthy and full, even after having been sheared into a too narrow cone
shape last year.
I think cutting the top a bit and shearing the width each year should be
tried so as to preserve them if possible. If they get enough sun, new
growth will sprout quickly anywhere they look thin or less filled out.
Shearing is a lot different from topping. Most conifers respond
positively to shearing but few react well to topping. There are many
varieties of arborvitae, had the OP submitted a photo that would help
immeasurably to advise. Topping most of an older tall variety would
result in many years of looking at a stumpy bush... will likely slowly
die from not being able to heal so large a wound, would lose strength
and be prone to disease and insect attack. I would remove it and
plant something more suitable for the space alloted.
On 6/27/2010 12:39 PM, brooklyn1 wrote:
I could be wrong, but the OP seemed to indicate a slow, gradual
reduction in height. The shrubs could always be removed and dumped
after gradual shortening and shearing if they died, and they might
thrive. Why not take the time to find out?
As to wounds, I've seen ice and snow damage to large arborvitae branches
and seen them bounce back with vitality (not mine, I brush it all off as
fast as I can, lucky so far), so it's certainly within the realm of
On 6/27/2010 1:04 PM, Susan wrote:
This suggests that the OP could just go ahead and cut those babies hard:
Other sites, too, discuss pruning, shearing and topping to keep neat
arborvitae hedges, so it's not so deadly after all, I guess.
Why waste many years hoping for what most likely won't be... a new
arborvitae costs like $20. I wouldn't plant American arborvitae by an
entryway anyway, they grow too large, are used primarily for
screening... sometimes planted in groups for accent but require a very
large space. But why make the same mistake, I'd plant something
different, something with a more suitable growing habit, that would
fit with sun exposure. Large specimens don't work as foundation
On 6/27/2010 2:07 PM, brooklyn1 wrote:
I think it depends upon how large your foundation bed is and what your
need is in terms of camouflage and balance, that's why I used the
emerald one. Bought it mature to cover up the fact that a meter is
hideously attached to the *front* of my home.
And from all I've now read, there's no harm in cutting them as much as
one needs to, so they're perfectly well suited as long as one maintains
At the rate mine grows, years aren't necessary, at least not for an
they'll recover from a lot
of abuse if they don't get
too dried out in the winter
winds when their center
we have a few that get
munched on by the deer
and i just go along and
trim out the dead stuff
left behind. they sprout
new to fill in eventually
if left alone.
but i do agree with the
landscaper. they smell
nice, but they grow too
big for next to foundation
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