Need pruning advice for huge Arborvitae

steve22802(7a VA)August 21, 2013

I do some landscaping work for a rental property owner and there was one property where a huge sprawling Arborvitae was crowding the parking area. I cut it back pretty hard to solve the immediate crowding problem but now I'm wondering about the future growth of this shrub. Should I suggest pruning the entire thing back hard to around 4 feet? Would it grow out again ok from that point over several years? What would happen if I cut it all the way to within inches of the ground? Would that generate lots of bushy growth? I assume it would be best to wait until spring for major shearing so that it would start growing out again immediately instead of having ugly bare branches all winter. Here's a couple photos:

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hmmmm

someone who does landscape work....

should know that these are conifers ....

perhaps.. in 10 years.. those bare sticks will be green again ... perhaps not ... personally.. they would not remain in my garden.. long enough to find out .....

ken

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 6:50PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Arborvitae do not rejenerate off of older wood......these branches will not go back....you will be left with what you have now.....a dead hole in the middle of the tree......anymore pruning will make things worse......
If it was an old Yew, you could cut it back severely and it would regrow and look good........

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:36PM
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nurseryman33(4/5)

It looks pretty bad now. Those stubs aren't going to resprout. The plant is overgrown - time to replace it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:37PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What I see is a nice 'Umbraculifera' that was spoiled so the noses of some cars could stick over the edge of the paving.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 1:34AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Thanks for the advice. The branches were actually hanging a foot or two over the pavement and continuing to reach out further each year. I think it's just time to replace it. It was also splaying open in the middle and had at least one major broken branch. Maybe it would be possible to cut it back further on that side and then plant one or two narrow upright shrubs to hide the dead wood.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:29AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

By the way, this is not a very deep concrete parking pad and the residents could barely get their vehicles off the street before I pruned the shrub back. It's really just gotten too big for the location.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 11:10AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes: if it's starting to break up that is a definite hint.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 1:36PM
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