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-   -   Cutting the top off a hemlock? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f16/cutting-top-off-hemlock-128179/)

CoconutPete 12-30-2011 10:42 AM

Cutting the top off a hemlock?
 
My property line has around 15 Hemlocks planted on it. I have no idea how to estimate the age, but the PO of my house bought it in 1979 and definitely did not plant them and definitely did not touch them ... ever!

They are far too tall to serve the purpose they were put there for (providing some separation between my lot and the neighbor. In fact, I had to prune them in order to fit my deck in there. These things are about 20' tall, most of them 6" in diameter or less, with a few "big boys" around 8" in diameter.

I'm not emotionally attached to these, and I'm thinking of chopping them down in order to plant something around 6' high in order to provide some separation between the lots, someone told me in passing to try to lob the top off them in order to spur "sideways growth".

There seems to be mixed answers around the interwebz when it comes to this. Any feedback from any of y'all? I'm willing to give this a shot as an alternative to cutting the poor things down.

chrisn 12-30-2011 10:54 AM

Cutting the tops off will encourage SOME lateral growth, but in a hemlock, not much, sorry about that. If you had started going it years ago, you might have what you want. If you go the route of removing and re planting, I would go with Leland Cypress for very quick growth or Arborvitae for slower growth( and easier maintenance down the road)

CoconutPete 12-30-2011 11:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 807301)
Cutting the tops off will encourage SOME lateral growth, but in a hemlock, not much, sorry about that. If you had started going it years ago, you might have what you want. If you go the route of removing and re planting, I would go with Leland Cypress for very quick growth or Arborvitae for slower growth( and easier maintenance down the road)

Is there a better chance of "success" AKA the tree "taking" and not dying out after planting with either of these?

chrisn 12-30-2011 03:58 PM

The Cypress would be hardier and relatively free of pests.The arborvitae would be fine also, but is much slower to grow and does get some pests( bag worms, mites). I don't know where you are, so it might be wise to go to you're local nursery and ask them.

CoconutPete 12-30-2011 04:44 PM

Thanks I think I'll do that. This is in Central CT.

Like I said, not attached to the hemlocks but if I could avoid chopping them down and more importantly getting rid of the stumps :( I was willing to give it a shot.

Off to the nursery in the springtime I guess :thumbsup:

Thunder Chicken 01-04-2012 04:50 PM

Watch the arborvitae as well - they can grow 20+ ft if left to their own.

CoconutPete 01-05-2012 09:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder Chicken (Post 812507)
Watch the arborvitae as well - they can grow 20+ ft if left to their own.

20' is fine. My only problem with the hemlocks is that there's nothing left on the bottom except the trunk and dead branches.

I'm looking for separation on the bottom 6' - I don't care what happens up top.

Windows 01-05-2012 05:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoconutPete (Post 813148)
20' is fine. My only problem with the hemlocks is that there's nothing left on the bottom except the trunk and dead branches.

I'm looking for separation on the bottom 6' - I don't care what happens up top.

It is a real shame to cut down a slow growing and long lived tree before it has even reached it's prime. If I were in your shoes I would clean up the bottom part of the trunks, get rid of the dead branches and even trim up the tree a little if necessary, and then find a shade tolerant plant that will act as the screen you want, and plant it between or around the hemlocks. Older trees like that can add a lot of value to a property and to the neighborhood - might be rash to cut them down.

chrisn 01-06-2012 03:59 AM

He has a point:yes:

chrisn 01-06-2012 04:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder Chicken (Post 812507)
Watch the arborvitae as well - they can grow 20+ ft if left to their own.

True but it will take them 30 years (at least) to do so.

CoconutPete 01-06-2012 10:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Windows (Post 813689)
If I were in your shoes I would clean up the bottom part of the trunks, get rid of the dead branches and even trim up the tree a little if necessary

Already did that when I built my deck. Branches don't really start until about 8' or so up and run all the way to the top. Top of the tree looks great.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Windows (Post 813689)
and then find a shade tolerant plant that will act as the screen you want, and plant it between or around the hemlocks

Any suggestions? I'm very open to this idea if you have a suggestion for something that might actually grow there.

chrisn 01-06-2012 04:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoconutPete (Post 814422)
Already did that when I built my deck. Branches don't really start until about 8' or so up and run all the way to the top. Top of the tree looks great.



Any suggestions? I'm very open to this idea if you have a suggestion for something that might actually grow there.


Little hemlocks:laughing:

CoconutPete 01-09-2012 10:11 AM

Not a terrible idea if they like the shade. I will probably be in this house for another 5 yrs, but we will have outgrown it by then.

The current hemlocks are so big they get a decent amount of sun, but a small one planted between them won't get nearly as much.

Are they really shade-friendly?

Windows 01-09-2012 02:40 PM

I wish I could give you some specific suggestions. I only have knowledge of west coast plants. Larger green houses often have at least one local plant expert. THat is who you need to talk to. Given the vastness of the plant kingdom, there has got to be something that would work.

chrisn 01-09-2012 04:20 PM

[quote=CoconutPete;817366]Not a terrible idea if they like the shade. I will probably be in this house for another 5 yrs, but we will have outgrown it by then.

The current hemlocks are so big they get a decent amount of sun, but a small one planted between them won't get nearly as much.

Are they really shade-friendly?[/quote]

yes, but as windows said, ask at the local nursery, NOT lowes


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