thinned out cedar leaves after winter unwrapping

Asked May 4, 2016, 3:47 PM EDT

Hi There, I unfortunately wrapped my cedars too tightly and when I unwrapped there was 50-60% browned and fallen leaves. (We have deer throughout the winter and these 3 season 5-6' cedars are like candy to them, so I need to wrap.) The cedars do seem to be healthy and the top portions are full as compared to the middle and lower sections. I shook and cleaned out all dead leaves and discovered little sprouts of growth sporadically from the trunk and branches.

A friend suggested to give a light trim to the good remaining leaves by about 1/2 because this will stimulate growth in the cedar overall and we do live in southern Ontario Canada, so here are my questions...

1: Should I even do this trimming?

2: If so, should I also trim the deadened branches as well?

3: If this is a go, is 1/2 good or should it be more or less? (on both the green or brown?)

4: Should I just leave them alone and let nature do it's thing?

5: Should I water extra since we aren't getting much rain?

6: Any other suggestions?

Please and thanks and I look forward to your reply!

Outside United States

1 Response

It's a bit surprising that just wrapping the cedars would have cause the browning; it's possible, despite the wrapping, that the ground was too dry for the amount of transpiration the plants needed over the winter or early spring. Browning ca happen on evergreens when the dry winds of winter take more moisture from the leaves than the plant is able to pull up from the ground (yes they continue to live and transpire, even in winter). It's a good idea to water evergreens very well throughout the late fall until freeze-up to be sure the ground has lots of available moisture for the winter.

Cedars can take a bit of light trimming. Do not cut into the branches beyond the current green. Cedars can be more forgiving than other evergreens, but may not resprout new growth from the brown stems on the inner branches. Once new growth begins you can trim that new growth a bit, but that is usually done to restore shape and does not necessary stimulate more growth (this differs from other trees like apples for example where cutting back branches in the spring will stimulate the tree to put on new growth).

Definitely remove any broken or dead branches... a clean cut is less likely to attract disease than a broken wound. No need to dress the cuts by painting them or anything. The tree will heal itself.

Other than that I wouldn't do too much... water it well, mulch the area with some good compost... the branches that are still alive will put out new growth and in a year it will look much better.