Atlas Cedar



New Member
Apr 17, 2001
We purchased our house with two trees that I have been told are Atlas cedars in our yard. Unfortunately, they are only about three feet on a diagonal away from the corner of the house and have grown to about 20 feet. One will most likely be OK, but the other one has taken over part of our drive way and has completely covered the width of a five foot section of our front walk. I have had these trees professionally trimmed but the one is getting to be overwhelming. Further pruning will lead to a tree that would loose all symmetry and shape. I am looking for suggestions as to what to do to manage this tree. It is too large to be moved and the last thing I want to do is remove it. Can I take out the lower branches from the tree(about six feet) to allow the tree to continue to grow but not impede other needed space? Any suggestions or resources would be appreciated.
Thanks Jack.
Deere John

Deere John

ArboristSite Operative
Feb 2, 2001
Northern Ontario, Canada
Darin - I'll help you here - I see you're carrying the ball by yourself on this forum.

Hi Jack - I guess you have several options. I am not personally familiar with Atlas cedars, but I'll assume they are similar in form and growth to our cedars here.

Option 1: I worked with a Dr. with a cedar that was about 20' in diameter. He had planted it 10' back from the circular drive such that a 10' radius cedar would fill the 10' radius driveway. Well, over the years, the 10' radius became 12' and he wanted to reclaim his driveway but save the tree and its appearance. I embarked on a 3 year plan to slowly force the tree (30 feet tall) back to a 10' radius. I pruned heavily in the early spring, and then again in July to take advantage of the continuing growth. I was trying to force the growth of the tree back inwards to where it had died naturally from lack of light. Results were that we forced it back about a foot, then the branches became too big to shoot and clip reasonably. He didn't complain about the cost, but it was costly due to the height and my use of the bucket. Will this get you the clearance you need, I don't know.

Option 2 is to prune the lower limbs as you said. Half a job of this to make sidewalk room, would, in my opinion, look poor. Others think the opposite, depending on the effect you are trying to get.

A complete prune to 7 or 8' may not look right either, particularly if the cedar is multi-stemmed.

Option 3, while you don't like it, should be considered. Removal would allow you to replace the tree with one of a size that may surprise you. Also, if you have weeping tile around your house, give them a good inspection because cedar are a water-loving tree and the roots may be giving or are about to give you grief.

How do these trees fit in with your long-term plans for the property? They may be irreplacable now, but with some thought, you may see another solution that will take you closer to what you want for your property.

Hope this helps.