The Q&A Archives: Pruning Cypress Trees

Question: My two 28-year-old cypress trees have overwhelmed the front of my house. I've tried to interest the companies here that sell mature trees to the large estates to take them out in exchange for small foundation plants, but they said the trees are too close to the foundation to bring in the necessary equipment. Can I trim the tops and shape the rest? I'd be happy just to reduce them to below the roof line of my one-floor ranch and trim some of the girth. Many thank for your help. Jean Raymond Hampton Bays, NY

Answer: It may be a little late in the game to "trim" your cypress. I assume you have what is actually a false cypress (Chamaecyparis sp.) since these are hardy, and true cypress (Cupressus sp.) are much less so. Generally, if they need a bit of shaping, horticultural varieties are sheared slightly before growth starts in spring. The pruning you intend to do sounds pretty extreme. If trimming back your cypress means removing a large portion of the top of the tree, proper techniques and safety measures should be followed, and I suggest calling upon the services of the same arborists you contacted before, or getting a referral from your extension service (ph# 516-727-7850).

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