Topping Arborvitae

Asked August 30, 2019, 5:28 PM EDT

I have 9 ft arborvitae that I would like to trim down to about 7 ft. Are there best practices for doing this? I've read that this isn't advised since it will expose bare wood and won't regrow, but it is now blocking afternoon sun to the vegetable garden. Thanks.

Benton County Oregon trees and shrubs arborvitae

1 Response

Arborvitae can be pruned at any time, with early spring being preferable.

Dramatic shortening of arborvitae isn't recommended, as once the brown interior is exposed it won't green-up. OSU Extension Agent Neil Bell explains this in his answer to question #114834, https://ask.extension.org/expert/questions/114834.
Here is some more general information on arborvitae.
If you must shorten it, you may need to cut it shorter than the target height, leaving living outer branches that can re-grow and fill in at least somewhat. This can be tricky, but if you maintain it regularly from then on, you will have a better chance of it retaining a good shape and good health. If you are not sure how to proceed, it would be best to have a certified arborist do this initial cut, and give you instructions on how to maintain it in the future.