Cedar Hedge

exgm(-5 ON)March 30, 2008

I have a cedar hedge that was unfortunately not well maintained by the previous owners or the next door neighbors, it's approx 11' high and way too wide at 6' or so, running for about 40' o/a. I had shaped it as best I could many years ago, but this year with the snow loading it's become damaged within the first couple of feet. What sort of result (I think I aready know the answer btw) could be attained if the first two feet of the entire hedge was removed? Would I just see a brown mass there for many years? Obvisouly the solution is to remove and replace AND maintain, but hey, I'm not rich.

Constructive input appreciated, tks.

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ianna(Z5b)

Dear exgm,

I'm trying to understand your dilemma. First you have to identify what kind of cedar you have, There's the common Emerald cedar which is a popular hedging plant material. There is also the common white cedar, a native of Ontario. The difference is the former one which is pyramidal in shape produces really dense foliage while the latter one produces large woody stems, sparser foliage. I suspect you have the former kind.

In which case, this is an easy hedge to prune. I take it that you are trying to prune 2 feet from the top. In which case, you will end up with a stump with lots of dead foliage (brown parts). it will probably require more than a year to start to recover but it should be able to recover. New leaf growths will come out from the lower branches and trunks. However, I have to ask why would you want to prune down the entire hedge and why not just tackle the affected trees? The trees that are damaged will eventually recover although it may take say 3 or 4 years to catch up with the rest of the hedge. At least it won't look half as apparent as an entire hedge with brown on top.

Also just to prevent your 11 foot hedge from growing taller, prune the leader off. that will stop the trees from growing upwards, force more lateral growth (that growth would help fill in the gaps between trees) -also another hint, when you prune, leave the plant widest from below and narrowest at the top. This exposes the underside of the plant to good sun exposure and stimulates good foliage growth.

Ianna

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 12:01PM
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exgm(-5 ON)

Ianna,

Thanks - I don't know the specific type of hedge actually, but the effective "greenery" is only perhaps 6" thick max. from the outer edges all around. The rest is just woody stems, which is unfortunate because it takes up a lot of real estate on the property and cannot really be cut back to an attractive appearance. The previous owners let this grow wild and the best I have been able to do is trim and shape it to a rectancular cross section with rounded edges.

My main reason for cutback besides the damage and necessity of setting up scaffolding to trim it effectively, is that my neighbours phone lines pass about 6 - 10" right over it, and this year with all the snow, those lines are encapsulated in the ice/snow mix at the top. I figure a couple of feet reduction could solve three issues if it could be achieved.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 5:00PM
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ianna(Z5b)

It is certainly unfortunate that no one bothered to control these plants. Although I had initially mentioned that this plant is easy to prune, I am a bit concerned that what you intend to do is a form of hard pruning. Cedars will take years to recover from hardpruning if not at all. More so if I hazzard a guess that you will attempt to trim the diameter of the tree to a much leaner plant. Probably to the point you'd be exposing bare branches. Don't attempt to trim it down this hard. I strongly suggest experimenting in small stages, rather than agressively tackling the hedging. You might end up with an eyesore and be forced to remove the hedges as a result. My suggestion, first remove the top by say half a foot. This will immediately stop the plant from growing higher and cause it to grow out laterally. Trim the hedge, top to bottom to give it shape. Do not remove too much. Give it chances to grow back more foliage. The succeeding year, see if you can trim the top more. See if the lower and exposed branches produced more leaves to help cover the gap. This is just my way of approaching the task. It's rather expensive to replace a full grown cedar - the last I check it costs more than $150, plus labor costs.
Here's a site that will assist you with the process
http://www.plantworld.net/Planting%20and%20Pruning%20a%20Cedar%20Hedge.pdf

I also suggest that you do a google image search to check out white cedar hedging and emerald cedar hedging so you can identify your type of plant.

I do hope it works out for you.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 8:56PM
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robynfarrel_live_com

I know this is an old topic, but I was looking for info in cedar hedges and stumbled upon this. I'm sure many other people see this as well still, and I just noticed the reply to it was sort of incorrect, and would like to put my two cents in to clarify some things.

Cedar hedges DO NOT RE-BUD. If you cut a branch in half, cutting all the greenery off, it will not produce lateral growth. Holes might eventually be filled in with branches surrounding the cut one. Also, with most trees the trimming of the leader will produce lateral growth, but I am thinking, in a pruned, squared off cedar hedge, how the hell would you find a leader? You couldn't. That's silly. And it doesn't matter how many times you shave the top off a cedar hedge, it will always keep trying to grow upwards. Trimming the top only provides shape, it will never stop it from trying to grow upwards.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 7:29PM
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swontgirl_z5a(5a)

I agree Robyn. About 25 years ago whe we moved here there was a 5' cedar bush in our front garden. The top half was completely dead from the oil guy spilling furnace oil on it ut the bootom half looked okay. I figured what the heck and just chopped the top half right off. It took off and is now about 25 feet tall and a nice shape too.
I seen people trying to get cedar hedges going and they look so thin and straggly at the top. I just want to get in there and prune them.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 6:42PM
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