Lately we have been getting a lot of questions on the radio and via e-mail about pruning certain shrubs and even trees very hard to bring them back down to a more manageable size.
Severe pruning of certain overgrown trees and shrubs such as holly, boxwood, rhododendron, and yew is a great way to bring them down in size if they have grown too large for your space. Because these plants have dormant buds on the interior bare wood close to the main stem, they can be pruned heavily until just bare branches remain or you can even cut them back to one to three feet above the ground.
This type of hard pruning should be done in late winter or early spring while the plants are still dormant.
Severe pruning like this is not always 100% successful but a very high percentage come back with beautiful new growth!
The American Holly pictured here was cut back very hard in the spring of 2011. Less than a year later, it has filled out very nicely.
After severe pruning, fertilize your shrubs with Plant-tone, rock phosphate, and green sand according to the Viette recommendations.