what to do about aborvitaes that sort of split due to snow

growingadviceNovember 13, 2011

I have 50 6ft arborvitaes that sort of opened down the center like a flower due to the snow we had in western MA.

None of them broke, but they seem to need help to get them together.

I guy I know mentioned 24in zip ties to put them up. Sounds reasonable to me, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

let me know if you have better suggestion.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Too bad you didn't choose single-leader plants. You would probably not be having problems right now. Using zip ties will not allow the plant to grow and would start girdling the trunks next year. I think I would start disregarding landscape advice from that friend. LOL

One option (besides replacing them them with single-leader specimens) is to start reducing (or removing immediately, if they are small) the co-leaders and trying to develop a more single-leader form. This may require multiple prunings and may look a little less aesthetically pleasing at first, but could result in a satisfactory long-term fix.

I'd bet you could find discussions of this type of fix in the conifer forum by searching for something like 'snow split' or some similar terms. I know Ken's a regular in the conifer forum. Maybe he'll see this and help you find a related discussion there.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 11:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

believe it or not.. this was just covered on ask this old house... a week ago or so .... but i cant find a video of it ... the episode at the link below..

they used the product at this link:


hope you can find the episode ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Ken, after seeing some pretty questionable landscape advice from that show (including the fruit tree pruning video I watched while searching for the episode you mentioned), I wonder if they would be a good source on info. Do you know what they said about it? I had no luck finding the episode on this topic.

Growingadvice, if you don't find anything with a search of the Conifer Forum, just post your question there and I'll bet you'll get lots of advice on how to do what I described (with pictures, if you are lucky).

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 6:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

will do, thanks.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 8:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I saw the same This Old House episode where they tied together 30 foot arbs with that plastic chain. I deleted it from my Tivo and then the following week, we had that horrible Snowtober in the northeast and tons of stuff split, leaned and broke in record numbers.

I went to my "Recently Deleted" folder on Tivo and pulled the show back up! I wanted to see if I wanted the 1/2" or 1" product. I could burn a DVD of that show, but I'm probably not allowed to distribute it, so won't help much.

Sometimes the TOH website has shows and clips archived for online viewing.

I have the chain on backorder, but in the meantime I used bungie cords to tie up many things temporarily. It was very versatile and effective for a temporary fix.

This tree (Butterfly maple) was opened up to about 90 degree angle!!!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 11:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

well brandon ....

you know my usually suggestions would be to get rid of them.. and start over with single trunk trees ... or do some horrendous pruning.. over the next 5 years.. to reduce to one leader ....

this offered solution is the only thing i have ever seen that 'seems' OK ... surely better than bungee cords.. lol ...

it really doesnt help OP.. to suggest they have been in trouble from the date of planting... hindsight is 20/200 .. lol .... whether i agree with the solution or not.. it is an option ...

were these bigboxstore plants????


    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Well, around here, arborvitaes in general are just trouble. Single-leader plants aren't a real solution because even those are too brittle to survive the bad storms. I can't think of any that went down in the last storm, but that may simply be because there aren't that many left. We had a similar storm about 15 years ago that topped red cedars and took out arborvitaes.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This was the weirdest storm ever. My surrounding woods have several 40-50 foot oak trees still leaning 20 degrees (up from 60). 5' Shrubs were flattened, but are now upright as normal. Many of the oaks broke and needed to be removed. $$ but less raking in the future.

I am thrilled with the bungee temporary fix. Soft on bark, no girdling, gives with wind, easy to use, easy to source. Just looks like crap. Actually on an evergreen if the bungees are black, they will not be so visible.

The TOH episode showed them applying them. One branch was circled with the chain, then the other branch was pulled close and circled with the chain connecting them. The end of the circle is set a few inches away from the branch. The chain twists to itself to lock in place and the excess is trimmed. Apply as high up as you can get. They also showed a good example of why not to use wire. The branches were girdled years later and the bark was trying to grow over the wire.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 9:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
iahawkz4(z5 IA)

If you're looking for the Ask This Old House episode where Roger Cook helps the guy tie up his arbs, go to video.pbs.org. They have all their shows available for viewing online...pretty cool.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

No luck at video.pbs.org, but maybe it's just because I don't know exactly what to search for.

From the description, it sounds like a temporary fix for overwintering. What a pain, and not practical over the long-run for larger growing cultivars.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the video. It was entitled Pruning a Hedge or something like that.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Thanks Wendy!

To me, the poly-chain is a better solution for the hedge in the video than for Growingadvice's situation. I would use that stuff for temporary applications or maybe for a last-ditch effort, before removing trees/shrubs.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 8:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I wonder if nylons are a good alternative to the plastic ties in some cases. Maybe the bungee cord is better for a tree application where the branches you are trying to support are really heavy, but I have an Arborvitae with the double leader. I have the variety 'Emerald Green'. I only have the one and it is still less than 10ft, so I use strips of black nylons to tie the two leaders together for the winter and then remove it in the good weather. The nylon has enough give to it, that I don't worry about forgetting they're there and girdling the tree. It has been working fine for me so far and last year was a lot of heavy snow and it came through the winter without a problem.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 5:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wendy, I've been using cloth strips for many years to hold multi-stemmed evergreens together in the winter and never had any issues as long as like you say don't forget to remove them in the spring.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 10:42PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Illicium simonsii - anyone have experience with it?
I just came across Illicium simonsii at a local nursery...
Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA
Need thorny suggestions
I'm looking for thorny/annoying plants to put under...
Mary Townsend
How to grow Wax leaf ligustrum taller
Hi, I think, I have these shrubs around iron and wooden...
Converting Mature Escallonia Bush to Large In-ground Bonsai Tree Form
I have two Escallonia shrubs that are 20 years old....
Coppicing Red Twig Dogwood Best Method?
Do you cut all of your red twig dogwood stems down...
Sponsored Products
Flower Market Pitcher - BLACK
$74.00 | Horchow
Briggs Tufted Leather Settee - BROWN
$3,190.00 | Horchow
Five-Piece Wickford Flatware Place Setting
$70.00 | Horchow
"Berry & Thread" Footed Soup Bowl
$30.00 | Horchow
British Colonial 3 Drawer Bachelor Chest - 020-63-16
Colonial Mills Crescent Stair Tread - 8 x 28 in. - Set of 13 - NT11A008X028
$159.99 | Hayneedle
Campania International Small English Weave Cast Stone Planter - P-132-AL
$99.99 | Hayneedle
Sterling Deluxe 5960-46S 46W x 65.5H in. Pebbled Glass Shower Door - 5960-46S
$589.99 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™