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View Full Version : Overgrown Crape Myrtle


clayslandscape
01-06-2013, 06:06 PM
The town where I live planted these along the entrance to the cemetary YEARS ago. They were wondering if they could be cut back so they were not so tall. They are health just are a little mishaped due to the long period of not maintenance. If they can cut them, how far back can they go?

corey4671
01-06-2013, 06:08 PM
right now, as far back as you want.

Weekend cut easymoney
01-06-2013, 07:31 PM
Crape myrtles do better when not topped each year, perhaps some thinning...

clayslandscape
01-06-2013, 09:25 PM
I would really like to cut them back to about 7ft. Would that hurt such a tree? Will it bloom better cause now they are very sparse.

knox gsl
01-06-2013, 10:07 PM
Personally I would trim them back with a stump grinder, and deep. If that's not an option cut them a few inches shorter that the last time they were hacked up.

ReddensLawnCare
01-06-2013, 10:27 PM
Thin to three to five main trunks and cut down right above where branches spit into two branches. Then get on a maintenance program
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weeze
01-08-2013, 10:25 PM
you can cut them back far as you want. they will always grow back. i would think it's near impossible to kill these trees.

Weekend cut easymoney
01-08-2013, 11:12 PM
you can cut them back far as you want. they will always grow back. i would think it's near impossible to kill these trees.

True...

They wont bloom better when cut back, they want sun generally and to grow really tall. Aphids eat them up

cpllawncare
01-09-2013, 10:52 PM
I got a letter from the city that went out to all licensed landscape contractors stating not to trim or cut any crape myrtle's that belong to the city, they will fine the crap out of you.Apparently they don't want crape murder! I laughed but then found out they were dead serious . There IS a proper way to prune one, just research it. It's not a matter of just going in and cutting the crap out of it either! Just because it'll grow back! I mean REALLY!

cpllawncare
01-09-2013, 10:55 PM
Thin to three to five main trunks and cut down right above where branches spit into two branches. Then get on a maintenance program
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I missed this post but that's pretty much it.

burnthefurniture
01-10-2013, 07:36 AM
Thin to three to five main trunks and cut down right above where branches spit into two branches. Then get on a maintenance program
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This. But the goal should be to keep the overall form of the tree as good as possible. I.e., don't crape murder it. That might not reach your seven foot goal depending on the height of the tree now, but trimming is something to be done surgically and thoughtfully, in my opinion. I personally value the form of a tree above many other criteria when it comes to trimming. Even a blooming tree only has flowers for a few months out of the year. The rest of the time, you see its branching structures. Crape myrtles have a particularly unique structure that I think, when thoughtfully pruned, can be highlighted.

cpllawncare
01-10-2013, 11:33 AM
This. But the goal should be to keep the overall form of the tree as good as possible. I.e., don't crape murder it. That might not reach your seven foot goal depending on the height of the tree now, but trimming is something to be done surgically and thoughtfully, in my opinion. I personally value the form of a tree above many other criteria when it comes to trimming. Even a blooming tree only has flowers for a few months out of the year. The rest of the time, you see its branching structures. Crape myrtles have a particularly unique structure that I think, when thoughtfully pruned, can be highlighted.

Exactly! I hate when guys just go in a murder trees and shrubs without any thought whatsoever, then I'm called in to repair it, by which I have to tell them it's a very slow and time consuming process and in a lot of cases it's a matter of tearing it out and starting over if the damage is to far gone.

ReddensLawnCare
01-10-2013, 11:37 AM
To many people try to make a tree a bush. People are just ill informed. I also wasn't suggesting in my original post that you should cut it like that every year. Just until you can get it on a proper maintenance program
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burnthefurniture
01-10-2013, 11:42 AM
To many people try to make a tree a bush. People are just ill informed. I also wasn't suggesting in my original post that you should cut it like that every year. Just until you can get it on a proper maintenance program
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Reddens, my comments weren't directed to criticize your suggestion, but rather to support it. I know we were on the same page. However, my experience has proven that it takes a lot more skill to go and thoughtfully trim than it does to just hack it all down. Likely, you have experienced the results of the latter as well. Once the tree is properly pruned, as you have suggested, maintenance schedule is the only way to keep it manageable in the long run.

Turfdude
01-13-2013, 08:45 PM
Crapes in our area respond favorably to pruning. I installed a ten footer at my home five years ago. I trim it back to that heigh every year in October to about the same height. It has filled in very well, blooms magnificently and from mid June thru mid September or so. If they don't get pruned, they get too leggy and sparse IMH

weeze
01-14-2013, 12:06 PM
the reason you see alot of crape murder is because people let them go way too long before they get them trimmed. these things can grow 5-10ft in a year. i've had some calls and people have a 20ft tall crape myrtle right next to their house growing over their roof and everything. in that case you have no choice but to murder it lol. the best thing is not to let them get overgrown to begin with. keep them trimmed from the start.

personally i hate it when they have like 10 trunks growing altogether. i think it looks terrible. i like to keep it one main trunk if possible. at the most 3-5. it just looks alot neater to me. i mean where it touches the ground. i've seen some that had like 20 trunks all growing out next to each other. it just happens when people neglect them. those little sprouts start growing. you have to keep the cut down lol.

i had to do it at this house but they grew back fine.

http://i48.tinypic.com/157zyf7.jpg http://i48.tinypic.com/35i8vf8.jpg

http://i47.tinypic.com/mslvn9.jpg http://i48.tinypic.com/vrzvv7.jpg

http://i50.tinypic.com/2nktd29.jpg http://i46.tinypic.com/1q0h3c.jpg

cpllawncare
01-14-2013, 05:56 PM
Those look pretty good Jason Good job, I guess it's the same ol story people want to wait until it's too late then expect you to pull the rabbit out of the majic hat and turn them into something beautiful overnight.

Smallaxe
01-15-2013, 10:20 AM
Looking at the pictures I was wondering if Crape Myrtle is on of those bushes that could be encouraged to fill in more from the base up...
I know some people like that open design for a tree that size, and up next to the house I suppose it would be just fine,,, but I like the leaves to start where the undergrowth bushes stop...

We can't grow those things this far north, but I'm curious,,, would the myrtle branch out closer to the base if you took the branch covering the window down about half its current size???

slowleak1
01-15-2013, 10:32 AM
Looking at the pictures I was wondering if Crape Myrtle is on of those bushes that could be encouraged to fill in more from the base up...
I know some people like that open design for a tree that size, and up next to the house I suppose it would be just fine,,, but I like the leaves to start where the undergrowth bushes stop...

We can't grow those things this far north, but I'm curious,,, would the myrtle branch out closer to the base if you took the branch covering the window down about half its current size???

Yes.

As a kid, my grandpa had LOTS of myrtles, in 2 different shapes.

Along the street there was 4 HUGE trees, and along the house was a row of about 10 bushes. Every winter the bushes got cut to the ground, and every summer they would come back to full color/bloom at about 6 foot tall, and no trunk. The trees on the street got cut just like the ones above ^^^ and would easily grow 10 feet through summer, bloom so much that you couldnt see green, and get wacked back down to knubs and one main trunk again once the leaves fell.

My mom said that he planted them about 10 years before I was born, and I am now 27 and they are still there to this day, just as full and healthy as ever.

larryinalabama
01-15-2013, 10:40 AM
You can "nick" the bottom and that will generally send up some shoots.

Theres also varieties that dont get so big.

Most are planted right next to a house and have to be severly cut back all the time.

corey4671
01-15-2013, 11:15 AM
I had one last month that was a good six feet above the roof line on a two story house. Customer said it was scaring hi kids everytime it rained because the branches were rubbing the windows. I cut it back to about eight feet. He freaked but I assured him it will bloom back out this summer just fine. No telling how long this had been neglected.

weeze
01-15-2013, 01:18 PM
i wish i had some before pics. they were almost 3 times as tall as they are in the pics before i cut them lol.

weeze
01-15-2013, 01:20 PM
Looking at the pictures I was wondering if Crape Myrtle is on of those bushes that could be encouraged to fill in more from the base up...
I know some people like that open design for a tree that size, and up next to the house I suppose it would be just fine,,, but I like the leaves to start where the undergrowth bushes stop...

We can't grow those things this far north, but I'm curious,,, would the myrtle branch out closer to the base if you took the branch covering the window down about half its current size???

actually they do grow from the base up. the trunks start out as small branches coming out of the ground. if you kept cutting the branches at ground level every year you would always have crape mrytle bushes so to speak. if you don't cut them the branches get bigger and bigger and become trunks.

i don't think they make good bushes though because the branches are so scraggly looking and not tight like a normal bush. they grow long and outward sagging down. it's best when they first start growing to trim all the branches off except for 1 and let that one get bigger and become the main trunk. then you have branches that will grow off of that main trunk making a nice looking tree. you'll still have to cut other branches that try to grow up from the ground next to the trunk though. if you let them go you get what you see in the original pic of this thread at the top.

Grasssales2001
01-16-2013, 08:58 AM
Why not just plant the proper cultivar initially? There are hundreds if not thousands of cultivars of crape myrtles. They range in size from 3-4' all the way to 25-30'. If the space calls for a 6-8' crape myrtle, plant one that attains a height of 6-8' when mature. Why hassle with all the yearly " whacking" one back?

Smallaxe
01-16-2013, 12:22 PM
actually they do grow from the base up. the trunks start out as small branches coming out of the ground. if you kept cutting the branches at ground level every year you would always have crape mrytle bushes so to speak. if you don't cut them the branches get bigger and bigger and become trunks.

i don't think they make good bushes though because the branches are so scraggly looking and not tight like a normal bush. they grow long and outward sagging down. it's best when they first start growing to trim all the branches off except for 1 and let that one get bigger and become the main trunk. then you have branches that will grow off of that main trunk making a nice looking tree. you'll still have to cut other branches that try to grow up from the ground next to the trunk though. if you let them go you get what you see in the original pic of this thread at the top.

I agree,,, that sucker growth from the base is not desirable, I was just wondering if growth could be promoted lower down on the trunk, then let the greenery grow up from there... :)

weeze
01-16-2013, 03:14 PM
Why not just plant the proper cultivar initially? There are hundreds if not thousands of cultivars of crape myrtles. They range in size from 3-4' all the way to 25-30'. If the space calls for a 6-8' crape myrtle, plant one that attains a height of 6-8' when mature. Why hassle with all the yearly " whacking" one back?

of course this is the best way. for some reason noone ever plants the right kind around here. they always plant the big variety right next to houses lol.

cpllawncare
01-16-2013, 08:21 PM
of course this is the best way. for some reason noone ever plants the right kind around here. they always plant the big variety right next to houses lol.

They probably don't bother to ask which variety they are buying they assume a crape myrtle is a crape myrtle or the company that installed it didn't care they just planted a crape myrtle which ever one they could buy the cheapest and make the most money on.

ELS Landscape
01-16-2013, 08:39 PM
I agree,,, that sucker growth from the base is not desirable, I was just wondering if growth could be promoted lower down on the trunk, then let the greenery grow up from there... :)

Sure cut if it off and it will turn into a shrub

precision8m
01-25-2013, 04:15 PM
Do you want to do it correctly? Sure, you can just hack it down and it will probably recover and just regrow with thicker foliage above the cuts. These are trees, and if they don't want trees, they should remove them and plant something else. Others have mentioned it, but there are many other types of crapes that would fit the need better. Or just a different plant. When crapes are hacked like that, it opens them up to disease and pest infestation. I did this at a clients house because they insisted that the trees were too messy around their pool area but they hated to cut down such a beautiful type of tree. The next summer, they looked terrible and eventually got black sooty mold so they had to pay to have them treated. Now, they still don't look good and they are talking about removing them completely. It's all about knowing how to prune. If a customer demands it, then go with it. But if they ask your opinion, be honest and try to avoid hacking a tree into a bush. Crape myrtles never look the same afterward. Best cut is to clean up the bottom 1/2 - 2/3 of the tree depending on its size to create a tree look with a full canopy.

ELS Landscape
01-27-2013, 11:50 PM
Do you want to do it correctly? Sure, you can just hack it down and it will probably recover and just regrow with thicker foliage above the cuts. These are trees, and if they don't want trees, they should remove them and plant something else. Others have mentioned it, but there are many other types of crapes that would fit the need better. Or just a different plant. When crapes are hacked like that, it opens them up to disease and pest infestation. I did this at a clients house because they insisted that the trees were too messy around their pool area but they hated to cut down such a beautiful type of tree. The next summer, they looked terrible and eventually got black sooty mold so they had to pay to have them treated. Now, they still don't look good and they are talking about removing them completely. It's all about knowing how to prune. If a customer demands it, then go with it. But if they ask your opinion, be honest and try to avoid hacking a tree into a bush. Crape myrtles never look the same afterward. Best cut is to clean up the bottom 1/2 - 2/3 of the tree depending on its size to create a tree look with a full canopy.

There are many types of these plants. I often call them shrubs that want to be trees. They can be shaped into trees or cut down to shrubs. Neither is right but most will take the abuse. The smaller ones will not I hate it as some are large trees and some are small shrubs. There are thousands of different plants of this breed out there.

Pictures will help! We have no idea of the type but we can guess from photos

Holland
01-28-2013, 12:05 AM
Don't crype murder it. Let em be a tree if that's what variety of crype they are.
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