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Large arborvitaes taking over the front of my house

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Hey Guru,

I don't have much in the way of plantings around my house, but I do have several large arborvitae that I think have really gotten out of control.

They are the big round type, and when it snows they get all broken up and misshapen, they are really quite unattractive at this point. I guess I can pull them out and put a few smaller bushes in. I should also mention that where I am is incredibly rocky... digging a single hole is quite a chore.

I don't have a lot of money to spend on landscaping. What do you think I should do to make my house look more attractive, but not cost an arm and a leg?

Here is some info about what you have...

The arborvitae is an evergreen tree or shrub from the cypress family. They are found primarily throughout eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. The arborvitae has scale like leaves that are soft to the touch, rather than prickly. Arborvitae prefers colder climates to warmer ones.
Arborvitae plays an important role in the wild. Its leaves are one of the most popular evergreens eaten by deer and other mammals during the winter. The dense canopy of an arborvitae tree provides cover for birds and mammals year round. An arborvitae, when allowed to, may reach thirty feet tall and ten feet wide.

Arborvitae grows best in moist soils with an alkaline pH level. They are also adaptable to poor soils that are rocky, sterile, dry or wet. An arborvitae will also grow, though not as well, in soils that are neutral or have an acidic pH level. They can be planted anywhere that has full to partial sun, and require minimal aftercare. Found in zones three to seven, the arborvitae plants will not thrive in southern regions.

Arborvitae trees come in many different shapes. Some, like the American arborvitae, are wide, cone shaped. Others, like the pyramidalis, are thinner. The globe arborvitae is rounded. Arborvitae trees can also be pruned into the shape of hedges, and make wonderful year round privacy screens.

Here is some info on how to prune your plant back into shape!!

Pruning arborvitae trees is an important part of the maintenance process. Many of the species of arborvitae trees will not need any pruning, as they will maintain a natural shape that is pleasing to the eye. In these cases, pruning arborvitae should only be done in order to limit the height that the plant will reach. In other cases, pruning will allow the gardener to change the shape of the plant into a hedge, or a more ornamental shape.
The first step to pruning arborvitae is to understand when and why to prune. If a tree is mature, many of the branches may not be as lively as they once were. This may be from lack of sunlight or proper nutrients. When this happens, pruning the plant down may provide the proper light to the branch, rejuvenating it. Pruning will also help to stimulate new growth.

Pruning arborvitae may also be strictly ornamental. A row of arborvitae trees may be pruned down to shrubs, for a more aesthetically pleasing screen. Pruning arborvitae may also entail removing branches and growth that shoots out of the border of the plant. Removing these will make the plant seem fuller and healthier.

This is what I think you should do...

Cutting it down to just a few inches off the ground may rejuvenate an arborvitae that is overgrown or weak. This is the fastest and most reliable way to renew a shrub. More information about pruning arborvitaes can be found online or in libraries. Garden centers and nurseries will also be able to provide help and tips for pruning arborvitaes.


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