Why does one think that landscaping is a permanent installation that should last for a lifetime? Well, we’d certainly like to think so after spending all those dollars to beautify our residences. This may be true to a degree but certainly not set in stone.
Circumstances abound where new choices come on the market that will enhance ones original choices or, if one wants to, completely replace areas with fresh and updated products that are more suitable to currant lifestyles just like one would update their wardrobe when old and worn out.
There are cases (I’ve seen many) where denial almost becomes comical in the refusal to remove a dead or half dead tree, shrub, or even plants that exist in one’s landscape.
Take for example the many, many Arborvitae that succumbed to the severe draught a couple of years ago. As beautiful as they originally were, and the privacy that they provided, there is no excuse to leave a brown and dead shrub or shrubs standing in an otherwise healthy landscape. Arborvitae are shallow rooted hence their vulnerability to severe dry conditions as was seen.
Folks, they’re not coming back so get rid of them and stick in some new ones or replace them with something else. If they are replaced, and if a next severe draught comes around, then soak them daily to retain their hydration and “mist” the vegetation on extremely hot days. If you have a sprinkling system it should cover foundation installations as well as perimeter plants — I’ve seen untouched specimens that survived remarkably just because they received proper hydration. Arborvitae is just one example, albeit the hardest hit, in once thriving landscapes.
There are other examples of removal neglect that I’ve seen in various landscapes as well. If you have a tree (ornamental or otherwise) that is diseased and has multiple dead branches that render it hopelessly lost, i.e. severely miss-shaped, then it would be wise to remove and replace it. The mindset of most is that it will miraculously start growing again along the “dead” branches- it won’t, so remove the branches to allow new branching to “fill in” the open area or, if past this point of return, completely remove the tree and replant with a healthy specimen.
Another unpleasant abnormality I regularly see is, in an otherwise healthy and beautifully shaped shrub, there is left a tree sapling or ugly weed left to grow right in the middle. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that it shouldn’t be there. If you whack it off it will no doubt return with a vengeance so completely remove it while still young and easy to tackle.
When planting your landscape consider “boning-up” on what each specimen is supposed to look like when having reached its mature size and shape. Take into consideration the natural flow of the specimen. In other words, don’t try to make it into something other than what it was meant to become other than a normal trim job.
Yes, there are exceptions like espaliered shaping and if trying to form a box-like design like Das Dutchmen Essenhaus’s name in their shrubbery (this particular type of yew actually benefits from shearing forming a “tight” and dense shrub) but for the most part species should retain their natural form with minimal shaping to control a natural flow.
OK, I’ll get off my soap-box now, but the message remains: don’t let ugly ruin an otherwise perfect home and landscape — remove, replace and restore.