FIR TREE PRUNING and shaping, or not???


We have a few fir trees in the back garden and the front which are too tall and stopping light.  We had a 'tree surgeon' call to give an estimate for cutting these trees. (ouch)!   Anyway, I was concerned that the trees would end up looking ugly, like a crows nest and asked if they could be shaped, but sadly not.  I am worried after paying out the money that they look horrendous -  but on the positive side I will have more light in the garden!    Does anyone have any advice.  The front trees are Leylandii x 3.    One of the back garden trees is a tall blue fir with lovely small blue cones - he's handsome and I'm concerned about his future look.

Many thanks


  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,248

    Just don't forget that once youve cut back to bare wood it will never come green again. 

    Personally I'd dump the leylandii and perhaps raise the canopy (cut off some bottom branches) if the blue fir is a nice one. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,652

    We inherited a leylandii hedge which was 12' tall.  We have gradually cut it back and it is now an acceptable 6 or 7 ' tall and provides a good windbreak and screen for that part of the garden.  We haven't been able to do anything about it's widthe because you have to cut back only as far as green shoots as it doesn't regrow from brown wood.

    I would therefore also recommend getting rid of the leylandii altogether and keeping the attractive blue fir if possible.  If not, get rid too cos topping it will look bizarre.

    In our previous house,we inherited 30' high leylandii which had been planted as a hedge but never trimmed.  We cut those down ourselves taking off the tops and then the middles and then removing the branches from the stumps and gradually wiggling and axing them out.   It took a while but we ended up with so much more space and light and happy neighbours too.


    The Vendée, France
  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    The leylandii can be topped with no issue, as it will grow a new top. The pine, however, won't, and will look rather ugly.

  • Hi all,

    Many, many thanks for your responses -   very interesting.   I don't think I could bare to get rid of the blue coned fir as we bought him in a 6" pot whilst on hols in Norfolk many, many years ago and he's handsome.   Maybe he should keep his head!!!

     So..... if the 'tree surgeon' cuts the Leylandi it COULD be o.k. if he keeps to the healthy green branches and doesn't go in any deeper back????  The problem with getting rid of them  from the front is the extra cost as they are huge and big trunks -   they stop people cutting across the front of the corner of the garden (end corner plot) - which was the reason we planted them initially.  Does anyone think Laurel would be a good front garden alternative.?  It's the extra cost of bringing the 3 front Leylandiis down and the chap having to take it all away which is a concern.

    Thank you all ever so much.    It's given us lots to think about.

    Our neighbour at the back of us has a huge, huge Leylandi, part of which has bulked out and overshadows one of our borders, stopping the plants flowering!  That property is now for sale and empty!  We asked the tree surgeon when he came round to give a quote,  about cutting it back and I got the impression the job was too difficult and if he cut off overhanging branches then all we would see is dead brown wood??? He couldn't do anything about the height, which I suppose is understandable.   We have trimmed back as far as we can reach from our side.  The tree must be higher than his roof!!!   Any suggestions are welcome?? 

    Thanks once again

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,248

    Laurel ger very wide and need pruning rather than hedge trimming otherwise you get a lot of brown edged leaves


  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I suppose if you cut back the overhanging leylandii branches from next door it might encourage the new residents to get rid of it completely.

    With your own leylandii, if you take off the top, even if you go well into brown wood, you will still get green growth coming up, so give that a try before worrying about removal - it sounds like they're serving a useful purpose for you.

  • Hi Alina,

    Yes, I think we will have to get the front leylandii topped.   Perhaps it doesn't matter too much what that looks like at the front side of the house - they do a good job.  It would be a massive job to have the trunks taken out -   unless we left pieces of branches, remove all the top and side green and sculpt them with ivy upwards?????  Very arty eh? 

    Hopefully, new residents will get the huge thing cut down at the back.    It's higher than his second storey pitched roof -   it's a beast!!!


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,652

    You just need to cut down the main stems to the height you want.   The side stems coming from below the cut will still have green bits taht will grow upwards to cover the cut.   Then you can start trimming the sides back bit by bit, always leaving some green foliage to regrow.  Eventually you'll get a decent shape and still have their protective presence.

    As for the neighbours' conifer hedge, you have the right to cut off any branches which overhang your garden but must offer them to the owners.   If that leaves you with unsightly brown branches, try scrambling a climber up them to disguise them.   Honeysuckle is quite vigorous and will give you flowers and perfume and will respond well if you need to cut it back.

    The Vendée, France
  • Hi,

    Thanks for your response.   Yes, honeysuckle sounds a good idea.   We don't have any at the moment in the garden.   Excellent idea.   Thanks for the info re the re-growth for the leylandii.   Hoping it all works out ok.    Hoping too the man will call before not too long.

  • I am afraid leylandii are not suitable for small gardens.I had in my last house both sides of the garden with full grown trees and still growing.The soil under the trees grew nothing and they blocked out the sun to the garden.If you do not shape or cut them before 4years or at 4feet they will look awful and bare branches wont grow back.In all truth leylandii belong to the forest not gardens .We moved before we had chance to do anything but the next people took  a axe to them and it looks much better.image

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