, Gloucester, MA


June 21, 2013

The fastest-growing evergreen in the garden

Q: Help! Have I ruined my Thuja Green Giant? I have cut the main stem a few times, thinking it was the correct thing to do. (Gardening novice.) I did not realize this would slow its fast growth, which is why I wanted this plant to begin with. Will the Thuja continue a fast growth?

A: You have beheaded the fastest growing evergreen in the garden — you had better have a good excuse!

Give it some extra care this year and next. It may be a bit slower growing, and if you planted it with others, you will certainly notice a sizable difference — but you shouldn’t have to replace it. Let me know how it goes.

Q: I have forsythia that have bloomed in my yard for the past 40 years. This year the very tops of the branches bloomed late, the middle section did nothing, and there are longish branches on the bottom that bloomed. The bushes look like they are wearing a Hawaiian skirt. What might they need to come back and look normal? I hesitate to do anything, but my gut reaction would be to cut them down to the ground to start over. Because they act as a bit of a privacy screen between two yards, it feels like a last resort.

A: This is at least a two-year job since the shrubs are in need of deferred maintenance. Prune right after the forsythia stops blooming. Remove all dead brown stems about 4 inches from the ground. Also clean out any very tall branches that might spoil the new shape. Good luck — and let me know what happens next spring.

Q: When’s the best time to use a dethatcher on the lawn? Is there a time of year when not to use one? I want to rent one as I never have dethatched and it looks a little alarming under all that green.

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