Master gardener uplimbed my cedar and magnolia trees. Want to cry

by P
(Franklin, TN)

Before pic

Before pic

We just had some work done in our backyard by a Master Gardener and her team (my husband found this company on greenpal to mow our lawn a few times and ended up hiring to help with landscape). She recommended trimming and uplimbing our magnolia and cedar trees all the way across (what I understood from this was that she would literally just be trimming the branches that were dragging on the ground.) In addition she recommended trimming our hedges and crepe myrtles.

Long story short-they uplimbed our cedar trees so high that it no longer acts as a form of privacy from our back neighbors. It goes higher than our fence and looks SO OFF. Not only that but they trimmed down all our hydrangeas down to the very bottom. There was no mention of her cutting them all the way back, she just said “trim hedges” which I assumed meant prune them. She later mentioned doing that so that they would grow back in better “in a few years”. They hadn’t been pruned much in the last year but they were still in great condition and growing HUGE hydrangeas this past summer (some were leaning over boxwoods which I understood why those had to be pruned).

When we first discussed everything, she mentioned transplanting the hedges by the fence where the magnolia and cedar trees are. My question is- was all of this work really necessary?? I really don’t know much about landscaping so I could really be freaking out for no reason. My husband and I are first time home buyers (our second year here) and the previous owner really did do an amazing job with the landscape. Unfortunately, the landscaping company they used has been completely unreliable and dont return messages/ never even sent proposal after doing a walk through.. so that’s why my husband ended up finding someone else. Im not sure what to do now, if I should have someone else come and look at everything.

I didn’t even think Fall was the right time to prune and after doing some research, I’m seeing that evergreens shouldn’t be uplimbed and will NOT grow back. I seriously can’t look at my backyard without wanting to cry! My husband spoke with one of the gardeners partners yesterday about the lack of privacy concern (uplimbed trees) and he said that nothing they did is permanent and will grow back. Is this true? Please someone tell me that this can be fixed and that my backyard isn’t completely ruined.

2k later & hopefully freaking out for no reason,

Ps. Including before and after (Fountain was removed bc it was broken)

Comments for Master gardener uplimbed my cedar and magnolia trees. Want to cry

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Oct 23, 2019
What a shame!
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

Unfortunately, I think you may be stuck with the results of this butchery. Your privacy has just ended.

There is no way of grafting the lower limbs back on, but there may be help of a sort. What I would do is plant some fast growing shrubs in front of the trees so they can hide the bare areas and fill it in a bit and provide privacy.

Nothing can replace what they cut off, but it's possible to add a bit of growth to hide it.

Luckily, the hydrangeas will grow back, although it may take a couple of years for them to start blooming again, as they bloom on old wood.

Pruning can be done in the fall as long as it's late enough that new growth doesn't push out as that would get killed off by frost. You're right that the evergreens will not make any new growth.

The magnolia being cut is a crime! Never ever cut off those lower branches unless absolutely necessary. I think they did all that thinking in terms of maintenance - ie: mowing underneath them.

I'm so sorry this happened. It pays to watch closely whenever you get a person (qualified or not) to do any kind of work in your garden. At least then you could halt the work before it got too far along. And it always pays to get real testimonials, and follow up to see their work. If they don't want to give you names of previous work done, let that be your guide to not hire them!

My suggestion is that you may want to hire a certified arborist or other professional to give you advice. I can only do so much from this kind of distance.

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