Hello: I planted this tree ( I think it is an emerald cedar? In my back yard several years ago, and not knowing how to maintain it, now it is extremely overgrown. Of I don’t want to remove it, can I cut it back or it is too late? What are my options?
Thank you for asking this question about your overgrown emerald cedar. It is rather nice to receive a question asking about how to prune an emerald cedar that is doing too well. We are usually asked about cedars that are doing badly and are turning brown. In a way, this is a really good problem to have.
A good summary of how to take care of your emerald cedar, in general, has been given previously by one of our Toronto Master Gardeners. Hopefully this will give you a broad understanding re your question regarding shape and health of your plants.
Now to your specific problem of your cedars becoming too tall. The general guideline is to never prune more than a third of the foliage of any tree branch in one year. So with this in mind, you may have a three-year project to get your cedar back to the size you want. Only prune back to green foliage. Like most evergreens, cedars do not rejuvenate new foliage readily from woody tissue. There is no specific time of year to do your pruning, so now may be a good time for you.
If you prune the tops, more sun can reach the cedars’ lower branches, encouraging growth. However, never remove more than a ¼ of the height in a year. It may take a few years for the cedars to regain their shape.
Our TMG youtube channel contains a video demonstrating how to prune and rejuvenate cedars. Click here to access this information. In addition, Mark Cullen has posted a very practical article on cedars in general. Click here to access Mark’s article.
Further, you may consider consulting an arborist regarding the future needs of the plants, and the best plan for pruning.