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I have these two "fir bushes" in my garden. I'm afraid I don't know exactly what type they are so here are two pictures:

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As you can see, as they've grown much bigger over the years (they started out tiny), they've become a bit "ill", with orange foliage and large parts of the inner tree completely brown. How can I rejuvenate these firs so that they are green again?

Can I aggressively prune them back, eliminate all the brown, and expect them to grow back nicely green?

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  • You can certainly cut out the dead parts to make them look tidier, but in general conifers don't "grow back" whatever you do. – alephzero Apr 9 '20 at 13:48
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The only conifers that will "grow back" are yews, which these aren't (they appear to be chaecyparis or arbor vitae), so anything that you cut back will remain an empty space in the shrub. In my opinion, the second shrub is ugly and needs removal; the first could be cut back a bit without looking horribly unsightly, but personally, I'd remove it, too.

One idea could be to create a topiary from at least the first pictured shrub, if you have artistic skills in that line or are able to hire someone to create it. You would then have to maintain the shape annually, which should be easier than creating the shape from scratch.

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  • In light of what you say, that they won't recover, I agree that sadly I think they'll just both have to go. Next question: how do I dig them up! They seem quite strongly rooted in. I'll google around. – Thomas Browne Apr 11 '20 at 8:01
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    I've cut down a number of evergreens and never attempted to remove the stumps.Your small trees look to have 5 cm-wide stumps - if that's true, you could just cut them flush to the ground and plant around them. Or are you planning on replacing them with something else? If so, I recommend a sharp spade, a hand ax, a small-bladed (15cm) saw, and a secateurs. Cut around the tree about 30cm out as deeply as you can with the spade, then uncover the roots with a trowel. Cut them out from the soil. You WILL destroy the saw as you do this. When all roots are cut, use a shovel to pry up the root ball. – Jurp Apr 11 '20 at 14:26

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