Forsythia Bush to Hedge

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by East Coast Lawn Choppers, Jun 5, 2006.

  1. East Coast Lawn Choppers

    East Coast Lawn Choppers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    We have a customer that wants a group of 12' high forsythia's that are out of control cut into a nice neat hedge... My thought was to cut them to the ground and let the rejuvenate so that there are smaller branches to cut and maintain and leaves. Is it possible to do anything with it other than that ??? any recommendations would be appreciated ? They think it's as easy as using our hedge trimmer and just shape them up.
  2. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,605

    You could probably do that, but it won't be all thast easy. Forsythia is fairly indestructable. I watched my uncle drop some forsythia from 15' down to 4'. It looked pretty bad for a few months, then filled back in, and in a couple of years it was gorgeous . I would say have at it with some loppers and then wait for them to fill in.
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    You can do just about anything possible to forsythia...ya can't hurt it no matter what you do.

    I have seen it grow anywhere from 4 to 8 feet a year on some properties (my last home) for one. If you want to cut it down to ground level and maintain it from there, go ahead. I remember reading somewhere that 1/4 of the shoots should be cut ground level each year to maintain its health as well besides trimming (twice) a year.
  4. Kate Butler

    Kate Butler LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    bloom on old wood (last year's new growth). If you cut it all at once, it's likely to be 2 years before they bloom again. The same holds true if they want you to keep it pruned hard every year - heavily sheared equals very few (or no) flowers.
  5. East Coast Lawn Choppers

    East Coast Lawn Choppers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    I guess we'll try to trim it up first. The bush is about 12' wide as well and the want it made as thin or thinner than high. Worse comes to worse I guess we'll cut it to the ground and let it rejuvenate.
    Rodfather, we were taught in class to cut out 1/3 of growth every year to maintain a young, and healthy bush. So yes 1/4 to 1/3 will give you a plant that is only 3-4 years old at all times.
    Kate, we were also told in class azaleas, rodo's, forsythia and a few other like them, as long as you cut them back within a month of loss of flowers they should grow ones the next year. They are blooms on old, but supposedly don't start new buds for one month. We'll fin out I guess, these stopped blooming a few weeks ago so I guess we better hurry...
    Thanks for your replies they helped allot... my fear was to cut it and have nothing but sticks for a year or two with hardly any leaves, but I guess they will spring back very quick.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    You can just shear it. You'll have a bunch of crap at the top and nothing at the bottom. Don't hack it to the ground. Use the stalks as a basic hedge structure. In a few months it will fill in and start to look like a hedge. If you hack it all the way down you will be starting anew and it will take years to form a 12' hedge. And don't worry about flowers...... They'll grow.
  7. East Coast Lawn Choppers

    East Coast Lawn Choppers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    They want it cut into a 4'-6' hedge it is 12' now. I figure it's going to look terrible for this year no matter what.
    We will probably be cutting it tomorrow... Sunday, only open day in the schedule for a few weeks. I was hoping they would not want it done, a day off would be nice.
  8. Kate Butler

    Kate Butler LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    Here's how to make the clients reasonably happy and have the shortest 'recovery time' for the regrowth.

    Explain to them that cutting it from 12' to 4' in one whack is bad for the plants. Then cut it to 6'-8' AND take out 20% of the most whippy, vertical stems from the interior of the plants. Cut this 20% 4"-6" (inches) above the ground. These cuts will launch the plant into 'renew' mode at the base and you won't have so many bare twigs inside the plant in a month. Normally, you'd 'do' a straight 1/3 of the vertical stuff, but because of the other cuts, the smaller percentage is better - even with something as rugged as forsythia.

    If, next season, they want the hedge still shorter, cut it to 4' THEN cut 25%-1/3 of the interior stems as above to keep the inside green and full. Because it's a forsythia, it can tolerate this much trimming within this time frame - most other shrubs wound react less well to this treatment.
  9. richarfg

    richarfg LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I know this has nothing to do with your dilemma, but I couldn't help responding in regards to a "indestructible" Forsythia. Apparently, in northern climates the Forsythia is "indestructible", but down south it isn't. A lady I go to church with gave me one, I planted it, now it's dead! So much for the Forsythia in the south...the only plant I ever found that was non-responsive to Miracle-Gro.

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