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Cutting the top off of bush/tree?

I am a very beginner when it comes to gardening knowledge however have enjoyed gardening for quite a few years now (just don't have much knowledge).

We just moved house and have inherited a lovely but just too big for us bush. I think it must be something like a cypress but I'm sure one of you will know straight away. 

Here's the main question - I've seen some lovely gardens with this bush around 5-6 feet tall and completely flat topped. I'll need to check to make sure the middle of it is still alive but how do I go about getting it down to about half/third of the size with a flat top? Gradual cutting or a chainsaw right through the middle...or something else?



  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    It's a type of conifer (tree) and those don't take kindly to pruning in that if you cut back into brown material, it won't grow new greenery from them.  If you cut it back as described, you'd end up with a flat brown top and the tree would probably slowly die.
    They also take a lot of nutrients from the surrounding soil, so I would advise removing it and replacing it with something you like, after beefing-up the soil with some well-rotted manure.  They aren't particularly difficult to remove as they have no 'tap root'.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • That's a huge help Bob thank you!
    Any favourites of yours that you would replace with? Thanks again!
  • That's it with a bit more context
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited March 2021
    I think you need a 'specimen' type shrub or tree there.  Have a look through this rather long (10 pages) RHS list:
    Personally, I love Magnolias so would likely go for one of those.  Those conifers behind will provide a superb backdrop to whatever you plant.  :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    I'd have no hesitation in removing it altogether.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,874
    I agree, something with white flowers or pale variegated foliage would work well against the darker background. Maybe something like Cornus controversa "variegata" if there's room (and budget).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Ah thank you Bob!!!
  • Great suggestion too Jenny and advice! Thank you!
  • Wild_VioletWild_Violet Posts: 163
    If you’re taking it down or even just cutting the top off, check there are no active birds nests in it first. :)
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