We have a large cedar hedge between our yard and our neighbour’s. They installed a 6′ wooden fence just on their side of the property line – I have no problem with the fence, or the neighbour, but the hedge is now tilting toward our patio and yard because it is pushed over – and all dead on the back. Can I shear off the back of the hedge almost to the trunk to allow the hedge to stand up straight, or am I doomed to replacing the hedge?
Thanks for any advice
Cedars need between four and six hours of sunlight daily to thrive, and this is the reason the side of your hedge abutting the wooden fence has died back. There is no reason not to prune away the dead wood, but you should be careful not to nick the trunk because injury to the bark can make the plant vulnerable to insect pests and diseases.
It may be possible to straighten your cedars by simply pulling them into position and staking them, or, if they are really leaning, by digging gently around them to loosen and free the top roots, which will help you to move the trees into the right position before staking. Whether this is possible may depend upon the amount of room you have between the cedar and the fence to install a strong stake. It may be more work than you are prepared to tackle on your own depending upon the length of the hedge, and if so, it may make most sense to have an arborist or a landscape maintenance professional take a look at your cedars and give you advice on how they would approach straightening the trees and whether it is feasible. The Landscape Ontario website has a list of landscape professionals: https://landscapeontario.com/find-a-company
Alternatively, if you feel that the cedars are unattractive and have seen better days, this may be your chance to think about other alternatives to plant against the backdrop of the fence – a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs perhaps, or vines such as clematis against a trellis, with some lower plantings interspersed between them or in front of them for shape, texture and colour against your patio.