How far back can you cut evergreen shrubs?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 1stclasslawns, Jul 5, 2002.

  1. 1stclasslawns

    1stclasslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 565

    Hi guys, Ive got this apartment complex I mow and the evergreen shrubs have been let go for years. I think they are arbravida (sp).

    How far back can I cut the things with out them dieing? I know they won't look good for a while but they are very over grown.


  2. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,900

    You can probably shear the arborvitae fairlly hard w/out them dying. Just don't cut back to where you see the browning foliage inside. If they're truly overgrown, try to prune them to their natural sharp (eg. globe or pyramid) and explain that 1 - proper pruning/shearing leads to new growth and 2 - the more they are kept sheared, the more dense the shrub will be and healthier so that future pruning will not leave the shrub as sparse as the first pruing probably will.

  3. gvandora

    gvandora LawnSite Member
    Posts: 143

    A quick and easy to test to tell arborvitae is to feel the leaves. Are they soft or do they bite? Junipers bite, arborvitae don't.
  4. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    You can only cut back any evergreen branch enough to leave enough green leaves on it to survive. If you cut all the green off a branch, that branch will die. EXCEPTION: yews can take severe cutting back; have even seen yews cut off at ground level that sprouted new growth.

    If shearing, you cannot easily judge how far to cut back, especially on upper branches.

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