Need advice for "drastic" pruning


Old 04-22-06, 12:05 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Zurich, IL
Posts: 85
Need advice for "drastic" pruning

We're closing on a new home this week, and here's the view from the patio door looking at the deck and backyard:

The photo is actually from 2005 so I'm sure they're even taller now.

I imagine the previous owners just wanted deck privacy, but these shrubs block the view of the yard and are completely out of control. I don't know exactly what kind of shrubs they are (or does 12'+ tall mean they're officially trees now?)

I want to remove about 4 feet from the top of them. What are my options? Would a major lobotomy result in killing them? Any hints for how to tame these monsters?

We're in northern Illinois so we're just starting to get spring-like weather here, if that makes a difference.

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Old 04-22-06, 04:48 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: united states
Posts: 98
conifers can be challenging to prune drastically

Conifers such as the plants that surround your deck do not have latent ( invisable but ready to grow) buds all over their bare stems that other type plants have. Meaning that unlike most other shrubby plants which will quickly generate new growth when severely cut back conifers can only grow from an existing needle bearing limb. So remember you must leave a good bit of green on the plant for the new growth to expand from.

What this means is that yes you can cut them back dramatically if needed but it wont be graceful. It will take quite awhile for the barren area to fill in. You can help by giving your plants alot of xtra plant food which will help them regrow as quickly as possible.

Simply put cutting the top 3,4 or more feet out of them will not kill them but it will sure not help their appearence

My personal advice would be to cut them off flush with the ground and plant new plants of your choice in the gaps between the stumps and start over.

Best of luck with your project.. 38 years in the business and still learning..Greensboro_man
Old 04-23-06, 08:45 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Zurich, IL
Posts: 85
Thanks Greensboroman, I think we'll take a shot at hacking the tops off, and if it doesn't work I'll head to the nursery. If I leave enough height on them it might be difficult to tell they've been lobotomized.

Any specific recommendation on plant food?
Old 04-23-06, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
Topping these trees will produce unwanted horizontal growth on plants that have already been planted too close together and have overtaken each other. It is time for these trees to go and to replant with something that is more in balance with your landscape. Do not make the mistake that previous homeowners made. Select plants with the knowledge of their height and width at maturity so that you will know how far from deck to plant them and how far apart.
Old 04-23-06, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: united states
Posts: 98

With all due respect the once sun starved inner areas of those plants will utilize alot of the plants growth energy that previously was focused only on its' outer most foliage and thusly minimise extreme lateral growth, at least that has been my experience.

I am not familier with plant foods available in your area ( we are in NC ) but if you go to your local garden supply and purchase a quality granular plant food with a high percentage of nitrogen, the first of the three numbers listed on the bag, you will be fine.

When applying the plant food use about three coffey mugs full per plant. To prevent getting too much of the plant food in any one spot pour the plant food over the top of the plant using a circular motion as you gradually pour out the fertilizer granules.
After you have done this to each plant use a rake handle or something similar to hit the plant several times to dislodge any granules that migh be stuck in the foliage. It is VERY important that this fertilizing method be done when the plant is totally dry so that none of the fertilizer might stick to the plant and damage it.

Best of luck....38 years in the business and still learning, Greensboro_man

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