Leyland lower branch removal?

johniferousAugust 22, 2014

Hi all. These Leylands were planted by the previous owner as a privacy screen in 2007. You can't tell from this view, but they do a great job.

But you will notice from the picture, the lower branches are starting to grow into each other.

Is this bad for the tree?

Can lower branches of Leyland Cypress be removed so that some trunk is exposed, or will that shock the tree?

I like the look, don't need the privacy that low and it would give the trees some room.

Thanks!

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smivies

They are not Leyland Cypress but rather an Arborvitae of some sort.

You can limb them up and as long as you don't go crazy the tree will neither "go into shock" or look ridiculous until it grows taller.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:21AM
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johniferous

Wow, the whole time I thought these were Leyland. Can anyone identify what type of tree this is?

I'm in north New Jersey, zone 6B. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:29AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

proper pruning .. not leaving stubs... NEVER killed anything ...

the only caveat.. is on a recent transplant.. and you remove too many food making machines.. leaves/needles ...

they are yours.. do what ever you want with them ...

it will NOT give them anymore room ... in a few years.. they will be one solid mass ... the next level of branches left.. will probably be touching each other next year ...

if you want a full ID.. get us a pic of the needles ... the straight up leaders.. confuse me ...

ken

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:31AM
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wannabeGardnr(7 Maryland)

I would keep the skirt to the ground. Then you don't have to worry about seeing and cleaning underneath. Trees shed dead needles, now they are wonderfully hidden from view an act as self mulch. Also, you don't have to worry about weeds growing under there right now. As the trees keep growing they'll keep merging together to give you more privacy.
They may be Green Giants. Very popular, but I can't identify positively.
If in the future, if you want to grow flowers or plants with contrasting foliage in front of them, the continuous green to the ground will act as a nice green backdrop.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:38AM
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johniferous

Thanks, I will make a separate post with the foliage pics.

Ken - my question is can I remove the entire branch, flush with the trunk? I will do some light pruning to bring them in a bit, but I also want to get rid of the lower branches and expose some of the main trunk. Is that ok with this type of tree?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:48AM
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sc77

Those are Thuja standishii x plicata 'Green Giant'. Personally, I think they would look awkward limbed up, and don't recall every seeing one as such, but obviously you can do whatever you want, it won't hurt the tree unless you go crazy.

They will be fine growing together though, people do it all the time. This is one of the most popular privacy screens around these days. They can also take a decent amount of sheering too if you wanted to narrow their profile a bit.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:55AM
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johniferous

I thought Green Giant was Thuja Plicata. If GG is a hybrid of Plicata and Standishii, what is the name of just Thuja Plicata? Western Red Cedar??? Thanks

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 12:07PM
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sc77

Thuja plicata 'Excelsa' is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as green giant, but those are less common on the east coast, you would have to go out of your way to find it around here. True Green Giant is a hybrid cross of Thuja standishii x plicata.

'Green Giant' is the cultivar name. I think you might be getting confused between the cultivar names and the species. I honestly don't even know the common names anymore, it's much easier to learn the Latin names, but basically plicata is Western Red Cedar and standishii is Japanese Arborvitae.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 12:19PM
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pineresin

"what is the name of just Thuja Plicata? Western Red Cedar???"

To be correct, Western Redcedar, two words not three - it isn't a cedar (Cedrus)

Resin

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 12:56PM
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johniferous

So if I have a Steeplechase Western Red Cedar...is that different from regular Thuja Plicata? Did they just pick Plicatas that had a different growing habit and emphasize the trait during reproduction?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 3:11PM
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plantkiller_il_5(5)

steeplechase is a selection of green giant, so it is
Thuja standishii x plicata "steeplechase'
ron
I think

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:32PM
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sc77

Ron is correct. It was found as a sport on a 'Green Giant' by Alan Jones of Manor View Farm, MD. It is actually patented by them as well. It's supposed to provide a more dense screen, but seems sort of like hype. Can't imagine how it could be much of a difference or improvement over bulletproof GG's.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Ken - my question is can I remove the entire branch, flush with the trunk? I will do some light pruning to bring them in a bit, but I also want to get rid of the lower branches and expose some of the main trunk. Is that ok with this type of tree?

==>>> a tree is a tree is a tree ... and a conifer is a tree ..

any tree can be limbed up ... just dont leave stubs ...

personally.. i would not trim them.. give them a haircut..

they are what they are ... and you arent really going to change their genetic predisposition ...

but what you might do ... is create a pruning nightmare in the future ... such as.. when they are 20 feet tall.. and you have bastardized the bottom ten feet.. and cant reach any higher.. and the plant starts assuming its natural form ... way up top ...

do no haircut ... raise them a bit if you wish ... but if and when they displease you.. cut at the ground.. and they will be dead ... be done with them ...

they are simply gorgeous specimens.. i dont understand.. on some level.. why you cant see that.. and wonder why you want to inflict your will on them ... i mean the haircut part ...

its like you want to take a good tree.. and make a high maintenance girlfriend out of it ... it usually doenst work out ...

to sum up ... limb up if you wish ... no haircuts ... and get rid of them.. if and when they displease you ...

i am enjoying taking you on your conifer travels... at least you ask.. BEFORE ... you take action ... i get very frustrated at the peeps who ask AFTER ...

ken

ps: someone suggested that if you keep the camera eye upright when you take the pic.. the pic will be upright on posting ... yes.. i know it opens proper when i click on it ...

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:36AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i am not spending time researching this.. so on some level.. the numbers might be off... i am giving an example ... for a newb ...

a plain old thuja .. grows 6 or 8 inches ... per year.. depending where they are planted ... zone ...

standishii is probably the cooler zone plant in this cross ...

plicata .. grows much faster.. but is a warmer zone plant ... [i wouldnt be surprised if i had that backwards .. i will stand corrected of so]

in crossing the two.. they hoped to expand the cold tolerance of the plicata... and increase the growth rate of the standishii ...

and so.. and after many seedlings.. they came up with a green giant version on the cross... with expanded zone.. and expanded growth rate ....

my ground freezes.. but i swear .. GG grow every minute the soil is not frozen solid ... which would mean in warmer zones.. it probably grows near year around ...

this is EXTREMELY simplified... for the level you are at ...i am sure.. the wizards of smart are scoffing at its simplicity ... but i challenge them to do better.. without using more words than i did ...

so when you start contemplating haircuts... the base issue.. is that you are trying to defeat the genetic predisposition of the GG ... and to put it bluntly.. you will never defeat ma nature.. without making a mess of it.. lol ... either by making a pruning nightmare out of it [having to prune it two or three times per year.. for eternity] .... or it getting so large you cant do the job anymore.. and you come back to us.. asking us if we think 'topping' it will be ok ... at which point.. we tree peeps start having nightmares like at the link .. lol

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:52AM
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sam_md

Hi Joniferous,
Take a look at this pic of Leyland Cypress in Maryland. This is a common sight here after the brutal winter.
You can see that your arborvitae bear very little resemblance to them.
Consider yourself lucky that the previous owner planted arborvitae which have grown into beautiful plants with a full sweep of foliage all the way to the ground. Only a bumbling "Homer Simpsonesque" character with a chainsaw in his hand would consider cutting off the lower limbs. Such butchering destroys the overall integrity of the plant.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:54PM
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johniferous

Thank you for instilling some sense of taste as I am clearly new to this stuff. But I am learning fast thanks to you all. They will stay natural.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:41PM
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