Cedar Tree Pruning?


LawnSite Senior Member
Hey guys, not sure if this is the correct place to post a tree-related question.

I have a client with large emerald cedars (I think), They have taken Winter damage to the tops (See pictures)

She wants them to be trimmed down but I've noted that this can be dangerous to the tree's, especially if pruned back to deeply.

With regards to the pictures do you think I can take off these hanging / broken branches without compromising the health of these tree's.

Thank you





Mark Oomkes

LawnSite Fanatic
Grand Rapids, MI
They're going to look horrible if you top them. They won't die, but they're going to be fugly.

Tie them to each other?


LawnSite Fanatic
Tie them like Mark said or just clip the wayward ones


LawnSite Bronze Member
Unless you put a permanent tie or someone takes them off, it'll happen again and that time be larger limbs that probably snap.

They do look like some sort of arborvitae, american? It gets confusing with those/cypresses/thuja without seeing cones, leaf close-ups.

I think it would benefit to cut back those branches and leave the one central leader for the one alone on the lawn. I would snip about half of them, still tie them to heal, then if fills in green behind where the sections were removed, gradually take more off until there's no long branches prone to snapping.
If you're not cutting too much off, it should fill in, especially now is a decent time and not mid-summer, early spring is best usually. The one near the house but not up close to it like the 3 others looks like 4 equal parts, so can't prune to leave a central leader, but if trained from the start might have been able.

Not sure the mature/max height/girth of that species but the ones against the house should be maintained, but the one in the middle of the lawn you can probably just let it grow, leaving just the central leader will make it grow taller and usually just better all around regardless that it makes them more snow-proof too. If it ever gets too big to prune and want to keep it trimmed every year to grow dense and uniform,being a small conifer I think it could be topped without too much risk as long as you're not taking too much off which might never grow back upward and look like a tree with its head cut off.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Cape Cod
Tie them as Hort101 said. Also shear the top slightly to slow down the long fast growth and do that every year. That will stiffen it up and make it harder for them to open up.