Reduction pruning of towering junipers(?)

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by wynn, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. wynn

    wynn Active Member 10 Years

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    I need advice regarding 2 huge towering conifers (I believe they would be junipers) that are probably at least 40 years old. These have grown way out of scale for the urban garden they inhabit and will continue to grow taller and top-heavier over the years. I don't have a picture but the base of the trunks are at least a foot in diameter and are about 30-40' tall. They grow in a distinctly flame-like shape - narrow at the base, widening in the middle (est. 10' W) and narrowing again at the top. The only pruning I've ever seen on this type of conifer is horrible -- usually they are just cut in half and end up looking like a wide mouth vase or coffee cup. Ghastly. The owner prefers not to remove them but to reduce them in size by to about 1/2 current height. Is there any way to prune this type (and vintage) of conifer so that it will regrow in the same flame shape from a drastic cutting back position? Like most dense conifers, as soon as you cut into the outer green layer it is dead brown needles inside. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Wynn
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2008
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    The pruning you are seeking might be what arborists refer to as crown reduction, removing leaders by cutting down inside the canopy so subordinate leaders become the new tops. It's not crew-cut topping. It's selective pruning.

    If done properly, it works well. But you may have to settle for a 30% ruduction in height rather than 50% reduction.

    And you probably don't want to remove more than about 1/4 of the foliage. It may take a couple of years to accomplish this.

    Sounds like you are referring to Hollywood Juniper.

    Hope so. Because if it's a Leyland Cypress, I don't think there is a chance to reduce it and have it look decent. But many of the Hollywood Junipers have branching that allows pruning for height control.
     
  4. wynn

    wynn Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you both for your replies. I will look into the possibility of crown reduction pruning. I won't know if it has the possibility of success until the arborist get up there and has a closer look at the main internal structure. If it is not feasible, I guess the choice comes down to either removing them completely or leaving them as is and trying to maintain them at the present scale. I could work out a composition of other trees and/or large shrubs to plant around them to give them some context and bring them more into scale with the rest of the garden. There is always a way....given enough thought and imagination!

    Thanks again!

    Wynn
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    This is not renovation pruning of a broadleaf shrub, where you take out 1/3 of the top over a three year period and the plant readily and vigorously bounces back from the roots. Any form of taking a big chunk out of a developed evergreen conifer is liable to have a severe impact on its health and on its appearance. Hollowing out the center of the top of a 40' conifer and leaving most of the outside still in place is a facade, like clear-cutting all of a forest except the part that faces the highway. To the tree it will be the same as if the top broke out in a storm.

    If these are in fact the fast-growing Leyland cypress 30'-40' is not a large specimen, ones 90' tall are known in Seattle with more than 100' having been seen in UK. If they are instead something slower-growing like Sawara cypresses or junipers they could be comparatively old, making cutting a big section out of them more of a travesty. Slow-growing kinds would also not be likely to rapidly become even more out-of-scale if left intact, unlike Leyland cypress which quickly loom ever larger over a relatively short period of time.
     
  6. wynn

    wynn Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Ron. My inclination at this time is actually to leave them be (with a program of "stay in place") which I'll be recommending to the client. I really don't want to be party to anything that would leave them mortally and/or esthetically ravaged. Thanks for taking the time to comment. PS. I believe they are a columnar type juniper although I haven't had time yet to confirm the variety.

    Wynn
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  8. wynn

    wynn Active Member 10 Years

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    Got an old picture (about 10 yrs old) from owner, but not a full view. This represents about 1/3 or less of the current height of a set of 3 trees. Fat in the middle and narrow at both ends. Now I'm thinking maybe it is a cypress.

    Wynn
     

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  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  10. wynn

    wynn Active Member 10 Years

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    Hmm, they describe the 'Elwoodii' as a dwarf growing to maximum 10' and "taking it's time getting there". So, definitely a cypress but perhaps not 'elwoodii'? Still overwhelming presences in the urban garden, but perhaps a little humbleness at the foot of a green giant will do us all good. As far as I'm concerned it can stay as long as it's healthy. Thanks for taking the time, Ron.

    Wynn

    I didn't see your last edit. No, that's not what we want.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Seattle has multiple 'Ellwoodii' measured as 31'-42' tall a few years ago.
     

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