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by mandy
(western france)

About 18 months ago one of our pencil cypress trees started leaning and is now at an angle of 45 degrees ( I know, we should have dealt with it before).

The main trunk is about 10cm in diameter and some of the branches are now growing in the right direction ie: skywards.

Rather than winch it to an upright position, disturbing the root ball, can we lop the trunk above one of the lower branches which is reaching upwards, making this smaller branch a new leader?

To winch it back to upright we would need to stake it at at about a metre from the tree which would be slap bang in the middle of our driveway. This tree forms part of a mixed screening hedge with very little room to replant.
over to you….

Hi Mandy, that is quite an issue – in some cases, these trees are sold without much in the way of roots due to the way they’re grown in a nursery situation – without regular root pruning, their roots are mostly chopped off when the tree is dug, leading to a situation where they have very few anchor roots to prevent this from happening.

However, due to the way these trees grow, I think it’s quite okay to retrain a new leader to take over from the original one, especially in this situation where the appearance of the tree probably isn’t quite as important as if it was in a hedge with just that species.

If necessary, you can gently guide it into the more upright position with a bamboo cane or other straight twig tied on with t-shirt strips, just make sure that you take the ties off periodically to make sure they’re not too tight. Within a couple of years, you won’t be able to tell that it ever had any issues.

Best of luck with your project,

Comments for Pruning a fallen pencil cypress

Jan 02, 2013

Pruning a fallen cypress

Thanks Jacki. I had hoped that was possible to treat the tree that way as the overall height is probably around 12 feet and the trunk is quite thick so that winching it back could do it a lot of damage. Will wait for the recent frosts to pass then give it a go. Think we planted it around 3 years ago when it was just 5 feet. Will keep you posted.