In August, I decided that several hardwood ornamentals I planted about 6
years ago were getting a little out of hand. Pretty much way out of hand as
they are reaching wires, obstructing views, etc.
I moaned and groaned a while coming to a decision, which is to wait until
the sap falls and the leaves fall and then do some major surgery on them.
Since the major branches are out at 10 feet up or less but others and the
main trunks go up from there, I am thinking of cutting them back until they
are not much more than 10 feet tall, and a fraction of their current spread.
I guess I will end up with some relatively thick-trunked, short thick-limbed
The other option is just cutting them down.-- something I wish i could do
with several of the 80 foot wonders around here.
Knowing what arborists ya'll are, this is the list:
Dogwood (at teast 15 years old)
And the kicker -- an evergreen:
Lebanon Cedar. (I have no idea how to prune that one shorter without
ruining the shape, but it is already a coupla feet above the main electric
line, and in it....wasn't supposed to get that tall!)
A little radical for several of them - you might need to consider removal.
It is not recommended that you remove more than a third of a tree's total
canopy in a single year - it is too stressful for the tree and can cause
considerable harm, depending on the genus.
The hawthorn, crabs and dogwood are not large trees to begin with. You can
take the hawthorn and crabs down a bit easily, but dogwoods resent pruning
and react with a production of medusa-like, twiggy growths at most cuts. And
if the tree is affected by anthracnose, heavy pruning will aggravate the
Chaste tree is actually a shrub and will respond to heavy pruning relatively
well. Not sure exactly what species you are referring to with Japanese
magnolia - it is an applellation applied varyingly to M. kobus, soulangiana
or seiboldii, of which the heights can very considerably, however most
deciduous magnolias respond well to pruning.
I'd remove both the pear and the cedar. The natural growth habit of
ornamental pears is upright and somewhat narrow in profile - a substantial
reduction in height will drastically affect its form and I doubt you will be
happy with the result. Depending on where you are located, Bradford pears
are becoming invasive and are considered inferior to other ornamental pears
due to weak wood and narrow crotches, anyway. Topping the cedar is just
plain not a good idea and keeping a tree that wants to grow to 40' or more
at around 10 feet is silly and will ultimately negatively affect its long
FWIW, unless you are considering hedging and suitable hedging material,
pruning to control height is not an ideal situation or expectation. In
general, pruning should be done to enhance form, to remove dead, diseased or
conflicting branches, to encourage fruiting or to open the canopy for
penetration of sunlight and for air circulation. In the future, you might
want to do a bit more research on what to expect on mature sizes and growth
rates of trees before you select and plant them and carefully consider
siting. How big did you expect the cedar to get?
pam - gardengal
Thanks for the reply. I am aware of the 1/3 rule. My first thought was to
remove them and my second thought was what did I have to lose by this
radical pruning attempt.
I know that the cedar can go to 40 feet. I was not going to try to get that
one down to 10 feet, just manageable, more like down to 18 feet where it is
currently about 24 feet. Grew faster than i thought.
Before I planted them i knew the other's as well, in general they should max
out at 25 by 25, with some variation...the bradford says it can hit 50,
though i've never seen one that tall. The sargentii was supposed to be 10 x
10 but it has exceeded that.
I may have to take down the bradford if it shows sign of brittleness which
does affect other Bradfords around here. To maintain it's shape will be
quite a chore since it is prettily pear-shaped which is where it gets it's
name rather than from any fruit.....or so I understand.
I have to say that "ultimately negatively affect its long term health." is
pretty silly when the alternative is cutting it down completely.
I do thank you for your comments.
If I may jump in, it's not as silly as it may sound. A sick
tree is a liability: it may come down or lose limbs in wind
or ice storms, which could damage property or other trees. It
may be prone to bug or fungus infestations that can spread to
other specimens. So the point (from my view, anyway) is not
that "the poor tree will be sick"; rather, that you may be in
for unintended consequences, worse than losing the tree.
Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a)
(Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
I can understand that aspect. Of note, the power company contracts a
company to come through and slash as they feel necessary those trees that
are up to the street lines. There are some funny looking trees that have
been topped by them (big tree company, named Asplundh) and they definitely
don't follow any "1/3" guidelines. Two of the ones I am talking about are
in lines and i want to be the one to determine "as necessary".
Asplundh, hmmmmm?? Boy, that company, which calls itself Asplundh Tree
"Expert" Company, sure gets around. I think they have the powerline
clearance contract with every utility company in north America. PlantAmnesty
is trying very hard to get their contract revoked in my area, but they have
a lot of clout and the battle has been waging for years. They also offer
residential service including tree "pruning", hazard assessment, fertilizing
and insect and disease control, but I'd avoid them like the plague - anyone
that goes around loping off and butchering trees they way they do would
never get my business. Nor do I think they have any idea of what basic tree
care is. Much better you should take your trees in hand and prune them, even
to remove more than 1/3, than to let them get hold of them.
Don't attempt to cut that one yourself. If it falls to touch the power
line, and earths it, you could be seriously hurt. When we had that
situation the power company's contractor did the job, with the power
turned off.(It's done free, here. YMMV)
They also showed me evidence that even when a tree does not touch the
line, in some weather conditions the current can jump several feet from
the line to a tree that's too close. Branches within arc-reach of the
line were stunted from that happening. IOW, your cedar tree could be a
safety hazard right now.
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 19:24:02 +0100, Janet Baraclough..
Thanks. I'll keep that in mind. Yes, it is free here too if the tree is
touching the line. In the past I have taken advantage of that. :-)
This line is carrying either 440 or 880 AC from the street which is stepped
down to either 220 or 110. The wire is heavily insulated and twined around
a steel cable. Those are serious voltages.
Some of the trees on your list are not going to grow much taller -
hawthornes and dogwoods top out at around 20 feet or so, usually - and the
top part of their canopies are thin, light branches, so should not pose a
real threat to wires that are, say, at 18 feet above the ground or so.
However, some of your other trees will get bigger than that - any kind of a
tree that can form a heavy limb above the wires should be cut down rather
than topped. Cedar of Lebanon is a massive tree, although it is usually
broad rather than tall. A Lebanon cedar tree of any size should be quite
valuable, since they are usually quite slow growing. (Apparently yours is an
exception). It's possible that you could get a landscaper in your area to
buy it and remove it for some large property that has the space for such a
I agree that they should be near topping out.
The cedar was quite a surprise. I bought it for the ridiculous price of $2
at the nursery and it was about 24" and in very bad shape. It was in what I
came to call "death row" of the nursery where they put the things "not up to
snuff" on markdown and each week marked them down further and moved them one
section closer to the dumpster if not sold. Obviously the last stop was the
dumpster. This tree was in the last section right next to the dumpster. I
really coddled it and when it reached about 10' it really went into Zoom!
I expected it to be slower growing -- even stunted perhaps because of it's
early misfortune (parasitic leafworms I think they are called which was why
the nursery did not think it saleable). I cut off the bad foliage parts,
planted it in full sun which I understood the parasites to not like, and
watered it well the first two years. Yes it is a beautiful tree.
Sure it wasn't mislabeled and it's actually something else? Like a
Leyland cypress or Deodar cypress? Leylands can be particularly
aggressive, as you probably know. Cypresses are also very often
difficult to ID, especially when neglected and scrawny. The nursery
might have made a mistake...not that it's relevant, really--too big is
too big whatever the species.
You are correct. But the nursery did not mislabel it.....I did.
When I saw the name it jogged my memory.
It is a Leyland Cypress.
(you get it, both names are LC monograms.............oh.)
Gawd it looked pitiful, way past upfront saleability. Now it looks like it
has been on high protein and vitamins since seedling.
I just looked back over my list and the only other mistake I made was to say
"radial" crabapple. That should be "radiant"....as in radiant flowering
crabapple, 25 x 30 at maturity. Come to think of that one, it has been
planted 4 years and has not bloomed. It is in 1/2 to 3/4 sun, lower zone 7.
Any crystal balls out there know how long till it blooms? The 2 sargentii's
are in full sun but bloomed in 3 years. In fact, there were so many of
those bright red "ornamental" crabapples this year that we made a quart of
preserves out of them (Nice tang!) and still have enough to do it again --
except that it will take a stepladder to get to the higher branches.
Wow - that's a very different tree, Face. Have no qualms about removing
Leyland Cypress - extremely fast-growing, not a good tree for under electric
wires, and definitely not valuable enough to try to transplant.
in rec.gardens wrote:
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