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Lucius_Junius
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Location: Nova Scotia - Zone 6a

Extreme Cedar Pruning - Will it kill them or be ok?

I have two cedar trees in my yard, planted about eight feet apart, and they've grown to an impractical height. I don't want to cut them down, because my Great Grandmother planted them yeas ago. I'd prefer to cut them to about half their height and prune them accordingly. My question is; is that safe? Will cutting the trees down so low and then pruning kill them, or will they be alright?

I'd guess they're about 40 feet high, and very, very bushy, except where I've kept them trimmed up to six feet so I can walk underneath them.

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Happy Days
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Location: Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 33

I am not an expert at this type of pruning but I have read that you should cut no more than 1/4 of the height off of the top of a cedar.

I hope someone posts who knows for sure though.

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

The general rule for cutting trees back, whether they're neglected fruit trees, ornamentals, perennials which used to be shrubs and are now a...bit :wink: ... larger, is:

==> Do not remove more than 1/3 of the tree during any one year. <==

If you need to cut the trees back by 1/2--and I worked with a fig one time that was completely out of hand--trim them back 1/3 this year and 1/3 next year. I can't tell you what the consequences will be of cutting the trunk/main leader back will be; figs aren't a single-leader kind of tree unless the owner keeps on them constantly. Even then, for the sake of easy harvesting of the figs, multiple laterals make things much easier.

What happens if one breaks this "rule"? Trees/plants can go into shock and become much more susceptible to disease, insects, drought, whatever Mother Nature may be sending their way in any case. Since these trees have great sentimental value, I strongly suggest no more than 1/3 and possibly even only 1/4, as the previous member recommended, this year, and the same next year, based on your close observation of how they do this year.

Hope it works out well. :)

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Lucius_Junius
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Location: Nova Scotia - Zone 6a

Thanks for the excellent advice. Cutting them back a quarter this year and next means I get to spread my labour over two years instead of one, so I will accept that as the trade-off for having to wait a little longer. Even with 25% off the top and some pruning around the sides, I'm sure I'll get a lot more sunlight in.

WildcatNurseryman
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Location: Lexington, KY.

I have seen Cedars cut down to 1' above ground for Christmas trees (they were actually stolen) and now they are as tall as the trees that they were planted in line with. They grow super fast because they have such a large root structure for such a small top.

Cbryant
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Re: Extreme Cedar Pruning - Will it kill them or be ok?

I have a cedar tree that the deer ate off all the lower branches..so thereven is a fluff on top and bare possible dead branches on bottom..tree height is about 8 ft. How can I prune or whatever to get lower branches to grow back?

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