Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
MEA CULPA. Prior to this morning’s repair work, my arborvitaes (above), which form a row before the fenced-in swimming pool, looked like they had sprouted wings. Who can blame them? Perhaps they wished to fly away from the gardener who, ignoring his own advice, neglected to shake February’s heavy, wet snow from their evergreen branches. That frosty white burden caused stems to bend, and at least one branch to break. If your multi-leader shrubs are winter-battered too, don’t despair…repair! A pruning-saw and a spool of twine are all you need to set matters upright again:
Split or Broken Limbs
A pruning saw is the only cure for a severed limb. Once cut, do not apply a wound-dressing of any kind, for it will invite moisture and decay. Let the shrub produce its own, natural seal.
To encourage bent or drooping branches to grow upright again, loosely tie them with twine to the sturdy, central leader. I used green, 3-ply “jute” twine to repair all of my arborvitaes, including the horribly damaged one above. Jute twine is a soft, pliable, and biodegradable material that doesn’t harm stems.
Leashed into position, arborvitaes soon give up their aviary dreams and resume an attractive, upright habit. And incidentally, future snow-damage can be avoided entirely. An acquaintance in Minnesota told me that gardeners there routinely truss — from bottom to top — their arborvitaes in November. This certainly sounds like a good plan. But what a job when you have dozens of shrubs to truss, and nary a helper in sight!
For more gardening tips and hints, sign up for Kevin’s weekly newsletter.