Severely Cutting Back Your Plants

In last week's episode on winter pruning I addressed severely cutting back your plants.  Coincidentally while participating in the annual Snoopy's Social Run over the weekend, I came across the following sight outside a building on Hillsborough Street:

A severely pruned holly hedge on Hillsborough Street.

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about.  From the looks of it these bushes were probably at least 6 feet tall and not only blocked the front of the building, but probably impeded the view of drivers trying to exit the parking lot next door.  Cutting them down to about three feet opens up the space and the view, as well as improves safety.

As you can see, the result of chopping a plant in half isn't pretty, but as I mentioned in the episode, the plant will live- It's just going to look scalped until new growth starts to bloom in the spring, so this isn't something you want to do in December.  Late February-early March is usually best.

On a side note, be sure think long and hard before taking several feet off of a plant.  Odds are it took years to get that size and once you cut it off there's no going back.  You'll have to wait several more years to get that height back, so don't make these types of decisions lightly.

Hope this helps you in your own yard!  Good luck!