Blue Aptos Redwood Tree shaping

bugsb(9)August 21, 2010

I recently planted a blue aptos redwood which is about ten feet tall. The branches begin at the bottom of the tree and my gardener is advising me to cut all the lower limbs leaving it bare up to the six foot level. He says that is so when the tree matures you can walk under it. This would make it look bare up to the six foot level. I can survive the look but wonder is that healthy for the tree, especially in its first year being planted in my yard. I live in zone 9 Bakersfield, California.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My advice is to stop getting advice from this 'gardener'.

The tree needs the leaves at lower levels to help build caliper. You would prune up for head clearance when the tree is much taller.

BTW, in the GCV redwoods only live so long and then start to croak as they can't possibly get enough water to maintain growth and metabolism, esp way down there. When the tree is, say, 50 years old you would have to lavish about 32-35 inches of water on its root zone in order to keep it alive. That is likely about 2-2.5x the amount of water you spread across your entire landscape today. In the future water will be priced much differently and there will almost certainly be no way anyone but the very rich will pay that much money to water their yard.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Thanks Dan,
I kind of had a suspicion that would be the answer and my gardener was full of compost.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:37PM
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I have the regular sequoia gigantium and wondered how many inches of rain a year approx that it takes to keep it happy.We get lots more than where OP is from, but I wondered do I need to suppliment, I,m in SW Pa.I,ve read that their natural range gets alot of fog, snow and decent rain, I can understand the OP thinking of limbing up they look like they have many leaders and real bushy.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:49PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

IF you are talking, poaky, about the Sequoiadendron giganteum (likely), they are found in the Central Sierra ~4500-6500 feet or so (~USDA 7a-6a). They get most of their precipitation as snow and a few inches of rain in the summer from thunderstorms in a good year, not much fog up there but clouds in winter, IIRC about 35-45" of liquid equivalent precip., should be enough where you are.

Redwood 'Aptos Blue' should only have one leader and grow tall (unless hedged).


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Waiting to prune up does seem to be good advice in my opinion.

At least from my recent experience with what my Dawn Redwood tree, which this year for first time has begun gaining lots of height growth, that it is currently displaying. I planted my tree about 3 years ago. It was only 5 feet tall back then. Today it is just over 14 feet tall.

I was thinking about doing a trunk cleaning prune just prior to its Spring leafing this year or later this upcoming fall; after the tree goes dormant, but now I am grateful that I have not already done that, and am wondering even if I should still not do that later during this upcoming fall season.

The heat this summer has been particularly brutal, for longer periods than I have ever seen it occur in our northeastern part of Oklahoma.

For several weeks we had high temps rise in the triple digits and during the hottest times it got up to 106 F. degrees.

This dried out our soil enough to make parts of our burmuda grass yellow up, but I was afraid to do watering even at night due to the fear that watering in such extreme heat would only steam the trees and other vegitation.

Well, now the temps have lowered and I am watering again, but still my Dawn redwood tree suffered too much. More than 90 percent of the leaves on that tree are brown now.

The only green leaves are in the lower branches on the tree. I am now watering this tree as much as possible in the hopes that it will still pull through, but if I had already pruned up those lower branches, none of the remaining leaves would have been green, and very likely the tree would have already died by now.

I do realize that the tree might still die, but seeing those lower green leaves continue to give me hope that my watering of the tree will help it to potentially survive long enough for the tree to naturally go dormant and possibly leaf out again next spring.

The point of my sad tale is to reveal for you an actual ezperienced reason for not rushing to do the trunk cleaning pruning that the landscaper advised.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 12:11AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, leaves the lower branches.

Not only do those lower branches shade the soil and mulch, greatly increasing moisture-retention;
they also shade the trunk itself, which is important with young/newly establishing trees in hot
areas, such as yours.

The lower branches also help protect the young tree from deer - although I always put several stakes
near my trees to discourage seasonal antler-rubbing.

Lastly, it is my experience that those lower branches are instrumental in developing that wide,
basal trunk flare (I think Dan mentioned caliper) seen on exceptional trees.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 12:19AM
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Thank you everyone for your advice. I will just leave it alone and let it form naturally. The only trimming will be broken or damaged branches.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 9:38AM
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Planted there blue patois in half wine barrels each. I'm in Fairfield Ca they were I 25 gallon containers. How will they do in partial sun?? Thais. Charly

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:39PM
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