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how much can I prune back on an evergreen..?

Posted by vieja z7NM (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 22:03

I have two tall evergreens that I would like to prune back a bit severely as they have gotten too tall & too big around (like an arborvitae) for me to keep in shape. I topped the tree top main trunk & am leaving the new growth grow up in its place that I can keep in shape with pruners/hedge clippers... but how far back can I clip the side growth without killing it... not all the way back of the green growth & leave some of the green growth? Should I be conservative at first & each year go back a bit more into the green growth? I should have been keeping it in chec earlier!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: how much can I prune back on an evergreen..?

This isn't really enough information.

We need to have a better idea of what kind of plant you are working with.

Is this a conifer like a pine, spruce, fir? Or an arbovitae, juniper, etc? Or are we talking a broadleaf evergreen, like a Southern Magnolia, American Holly, etc?

Pines, spruces and firs generally will not grow back if you cut into wood that no longer has foliage. Arbovitae and juniper are a bit more forgiving. The broadleafed evergreens can theoretically grow back from a stump, though you need to be sure you aren't going to weaken the plant by doing that.

RE: how much can I prune back on an evergreen..?

the term 'evergreen'.. is vague ... encompassing shrubs.. perennials and conifers ... and some trees ...

as such.. we need an ID ... a pic will get it for you ...

you suggest arbs ... thuja ... but as noted.. rules differ per conifer ... [i dont care where you post.. but there is a conifer forum] ..

also.. this is more of a hand pruning job.. rather than shearing ...

and finally ... face it.. when they get too wide.. its usually time to get rid of them ... think about planting some new ones.. while you fool around with these ... so that in a few years.. when you get tired of hand pruning them twice a year .. you can get rid of them.. and have the replacements going full steam .....

can you post a pic ... so we are sure what you have???


RE: how much can I prune back on an evergreen..?

One is an arborvitae that it seems I can almost scalp & it comes back even fuller; the other is a columnar juniper ... 'Skyrocket' I believe!

It is (was!) about 10 ft. tall & 3-4 ft. in circumferance. Last year we cut the top back with a saw & are letting the new growth grow up again but now lighter growth that we can trim with the clippers. The side growth still has 1-2 inches of growth after clipping so guess we should not clip any farther in? Our error I guess was not clipping them when they were younger & less full! At our age, we can't look forward to replacing them with new ones!:) BTW: we have a tall (?30-40 ft.) conical shaped red cedar (has cones so guess it is a female?) tree that is over 40 years old & beautiful ... the many varieties of birds love it year round & so beaautiful with snow in winter! Wonder why so many hate the red cedars? Oh the falling cones & occasional small twigs fall, but no more messy than my neighbor's mulberry seeds, leaves!!!

I apologize for my vague descriptions!

RE: how much can I prune back on an evergreen..?

no apologies necessary ..

we want to help..

but its really hard to make specific suggestions.. w/o a picture ..

good luck ...


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