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Old 12-30-2011, 11:42 AM   #1
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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.

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:54 AM   #2
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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)

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:09 PM   #3
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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?
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:58 PM   #4
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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.
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Old 12-30-2011, 05:44 PM   #5
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:50 PM   #6
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


Watch the arborvitae as well - they can grow 20+ ft if left to their own.
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:26 AM   #7
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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.
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:37 PM   #8
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:59 AM   #9
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


He has a point
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Old 01-06-2012, 05:00 AM   #10
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:28 AM   #11
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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.

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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.
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Old 01-06-2012, 05:13 PM   #12
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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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
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:11 AM   #13
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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?
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:40 PM   #14
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


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.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:20 PM   #15
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Cutting the top off a hemlock?


[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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