Overgrown Crape Myrtle

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by clayslandscape, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. corey4671

    corey4671 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,931

    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.
  2. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,741

    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.
  3. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,741

    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.
  4. Grasssales2001

    Grasssales2001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 111

    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?
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    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... :)
  6. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,741

    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.
  7. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    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.
  8. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    Sure cut if it off and it will turn into a shrub
  9. precision8m

    precision8m LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 349

    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.
  10. ToddH

    ToddH LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,192

    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
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

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