The Q&A Archives: How do I trim cedar shrubs

Question: I have planted several cedars and they are becoming too tall. The plan was to have them as a hedge. Can I top them and allow them to continue to grow widthwise?

Answer: Yes, you can top the cedars but they won't grow much taller than they are now once you remove the central leaders. Here's how to grow and maintain your cedar hedge: In early spring prune cedars using the shortest plant as your guide. Light trimming of the sides will also encourage branching from all directions. Prune only a few inches of growth to stimulate those areas to grow fuller, to begin to take on the look of a hedge. Depending on how much growth takes place the first few years they are in the ground, you may want to prune several times during the growing season to start an overall dense, symmetrical form before it becomes unruly. The bulk of pruning for cedars should take place in mid summer, so as not to remove any older, inner wood. Prune to retain groomed habit and fullness. Keep them slightly narrower on top to allow even light conditions on all branches. This shape is helpful in winter allowing snow to fall off its branches as well as maintaining fullness towards the base of the hedge.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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