Badly damaged cedar hedge

(Question)

hi there — i discovered major damage to my 18-year-old cedar hedge last week due to the careless and incompetent contruction workers next door. they’ve crushed half of my hedge and i’m wondering how to save it from further damage ? should i wrap it in burlap now and have it professionally trimmed in the spring ? can i infill the damaged areas with something non-cedar (rose of sharon, euonymous, bridal wreat spirea) instead ? i’ll enclose a picture or two. thanks !

(Answer)

How sad to hear that your mature hedge has been needlessly damaged. What is it they say about fences making good neighbours? I am sure that if the construction is still happening next door that you have spoken to the owners of the property, or to the construction company, to ensure that your hedge receives its due consideration moving forward to end or limit any further damage.

I am not sure what kind of cedar (Thuja) hedge you have, but it looks as if  most of the green growth was removed where the hedge was crushed. Unfortunately with cedars bare branches rarely produce new growth. Burlap is always recommended for protecting young cedars until they become established. It helps smaller branches from breaking under snow loads and keeps them protected from the sun, which can be quite damaging in the winter months. It would also keep salt from harming them, if the hedge is located close to a road. Given that the hedge has suffered some trauma, and parts of the plant may be more exposed than usual it may be wise to cover them up to protect from further winter injury until action can be taken in the spring. At that time you might consider contacting a qualified arborist to consult on the extent of the damage, when it would be most appropriate to prune the hedge and other best practices moving forward.

Here is some general information about cedars that may be helpful:

https://mark-cullen.blogspot.ca/2010/09/cedar-hedges-investment-that-grows.html

In regards to replacing the cedars with another type of shrub, that is subject to personal taste and to the growing conditions of your property. Type of soil, zone, and light levels, will all need to be considered before deciding on a replacement for the cedars. Here is a Toronto Master Gardener Gardening Guide that suggests various shrubs for varying light conditions: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/ornamental-shrubs-for-sun-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

I hope that all works out for you and your hedge in the long run.