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Retraining Damaged Evergreen Trees

Help retrain damaged evergreens back to their pyramidal form with a bit of pruning.

Storms, snow, ice and hungry animals can damage or destroy an evergreen’s main stem, known as the central leader. When pyramidal evergreens lose their central leader, the surrounding branches compete to take over the lead. As these branches continue to grow, your evergreen eventually looks like a shrub was grafted to the top of the tree.

Lend nature a hand to help restore your tree’s pyramidal form. Start by cutting back the damaged leader to 1 ½” above the next whorl of branches. Tie one of the nearby side shoots to the remaining stub. Over time this branch will start to grow upright, forming your evergreen tree’s new central leader. 

Remove the tie after a year and prune off any side branches that start to compete with the new central leader. 

A bit more information: Reduce the risk of upright junipers and arborvitae being damaged by snow loads and ice with some winter protection. Loosely tie the upright stems with cotton strips or wrap the whole plant in bird netting to keep the stems intact. 

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