Overgrown evergreen shrubs


I don’t know what to do with my 2 overgrown evergreen shrubs. They are very large, about 6 feet wide in diameter and about 5 feet 5 inches tall. They are very beautiful, left to grow without any pruning at all – large round half spheres, at least 25 years old. However, their size is becoming a problem, covering the driveway and walkway. Is there any way to reduce their size without harming them? I fear they have grown too big now and it is far too late to reduce their size – I think if I trim them to the size I want all the green would be gone and only bare branches would be left – would the green grow back? I don’t want to kill them. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank You!


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners concerning your overgrown evergreen.

It is hard for me to tell the type from the photographs the type of evergreen that you have but from the shape it appears that your shrub is a globe cedar.

Our web site contains a response to a similar question on rejuvenating globe 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.

There is a lot of information in these two entries.  Two points of particular importance to your situation are:

  • If a cedar has not been pruned regularly, and grown too large, you should remove not more than 1/3 of the foliage each year till you get it back to the size you are after.
  • Only prune back to green foliage.  Like most evergreens, cedars do not rejuvenate new foliage readily from woody tissue.