Cedar hedge

(Question)

Hi there, I actually have a few questions about my cedar hedge. The hedge actually surrounds most of my property and in total is about 150 ft of hedge and on average it is about 7 feet tall. The tops of the hedge are healthy leafy and full but the bottom couple of feet are sparse and hardly any foliage. How can I rectify this so that the entire cedar is healthy? Secondly, on the neighbors (new owner) side the foliage was brown because the previous owner parked his huge truck in the narrow driveway and Im thinking that the cedars didn’t get any sun so it turned brown. Anyway, without approaching me the new neighbor cut the branches to the trunk of the cedar – will these trees die. If it does grow back, how long will it take to grow back. Also, I would appreciate any helpful hints on trimming the hedge.

Thank you very much,

 

(Answer)

The Toronto Master Gardeners receive many questions about cedar hedges, addressing die-back and browning, failure to thrive, pruning and general care.  You don’t indicate what variety of cedar you have, but all cedars are similar in that their growth takes place at the outer tips of branches:  it is not possible to regenerate new growth from the inside of the tree once it has been pruned heavily into the interior.  Since your cedars have been cut back to the trunk on one side, leaving no branches, the tree is not likely to regenerate on that side, and the overall health of the tree may be compromised.   New growth on your side of the cedar is possible, though, and this may in time reach through to your neighbours’ side.

Pruning cedars is important for shape and tree health; equally important is knowing how far to prune, and when.  I suggest that you search the Toronto Master Gardeners website for “pruning and maintaining cedar hedges” and you will find a wealth of very specific posts on keeping your hedge healthy (irrigation and mulching) and in good shape.

Here are a couple of links to brief articles that discuss pruning and regenerating a cedar hedge.  The Mark Cullen article is interesting for the photo it shows of a cedar hedge underplanted, in this case with hemerocallis, which is one way to camouflage the sparser growth at the bottom of your hedge.

http://markcullen.com/cedar-hedges-an-investment-that-grows/

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/prune-overgrown-cedar-64332.html