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I have a row of evergreen trees that have that scaly, cedar-like bark. So, they might be cypress, cedar, juniper or something like that. Actually, I think it is definitely some kind of juniper because it has little tiny blue berries.

They are getting kind of overgrown and branches are spreading out.

Can I just go hog wild and cut them back, or will I potentially harm them by cutting indiscriminately? Note that the branches coming out are up to a inch thick or more, so "cutting back" would involve sawing.

enter image description here

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    Pictures, please? – Stephie May 20 '17 at 21:00
  • The tree on the right does not appear to be any kind of conifer, and I can't tell what the other one is - can we have a closeup shot of the leaves on both trees please to decide what they are. – Bamboo May 21 '17 at 1:25
  • @Bamboo Its a hedge of overgrown junipers. – Andre Lenotre May 21 '17 at 1:26
  • I know that's what you're saying they are, but I'm saying that certainly, the one on the right does not even look like a coniferous plant - it does not have needle like leaves, they are clearly broadleaf, unless there's another climbing plant growing all over it – Bamboo May 21 '17 at 10:22
  • @Bamboo Well, focus on the left hand side of the photo then, the thing with the green and yellow leaves. Does that look a conifer to you? – Andre Lenotre May 21 '17 at 13:17
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Sorry, no you can not prune these guys without ending up with sticks and dying trees. No hedging can be made of these trees; Junipers? Cedars? I am assuming these trees provide privacy?

What I would do is to prune the limbs that touch the ground. Not too much just a foot off the ground and up the trunk. Cut out dead limbs. Do not cut the ends of branches only cut whole branches all the way back to the trunk. Leave no 'stumps'. Do not treat cuts with anything. Use a pruning saw or by pass pruner. Small diameter branches from the trunk should be cut off as they are small because they are not doing enough work to support the tree thus the tree doesn't support the too small branch and its photosynthetic leaves. Cut right off at the trunk. Leave no nubs. Cut dead branches out.

Pruning is a way to hurry up what the tree will do anyway; getting rid of the material that doesn't add to the health of the plant or tree. Getting rid of dead material that only blocks ventilation and sun. Getting rid of branches that rub that could cause infection, getting rid of branches that are never going to be able to be enough of a producer to add more energy than it needs to receive to remain. We pruners just help a tree be a healthier version of itself. Live longer.

Use by pass pruners not anvil; there is a Felco 2 that will easily cut 1" branches. Always clean your pruners before and after each tree with alcohol. Anything that you use to prune, clean with alcohol. Keep sharpened. Felco you can replace the cutting blade as well. Don't find that anymore...they will last forever.

  • We don't even know what these conifers are! These trees will NEVER be able to be hedged. Conifers are not like deciduous at all. You'll never see new growth after cutting apical buds. If they were young, perhaps, but not now not ever. And what do you mean about light reaching the pruning cuts? – stormy May 20 '17 at 23:21
  • They won't and you can take that to the bank. Even arborvitae is not able to be cut back too hard after being made into a hedge. It will not grow back. – stormy May 20 '17 at 23:33

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