Question of the Week
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Our question this week is another great one from a viewer. This is a very common situation. Often they're planted as hedges, and as tiny plants, we can make the mistake of planting too many, too close to the house, and/or to each other. When they're tiny plants, it's easy to forget how big they will get at maturity.
Then, we get busy and can't get out there to prune them on a regular basis. Or, perhaps like our viewer, you just bought a house with long-neglected shrubs.
Try not to remove more than 1/3 of that plant at a time. It does shock the plant when you prune it back very hard unless it's dormant. If it's a plant that goes dormant to the roots, then you would prune it back harder.
But for evergreen shrubs, these can quickly get out of hand and cover your house, creating a screen for burglars, hiding light from your house, or just not looking very attractive. You want to get in some air circulation, too. This kind of situation can harbor mosquitoes. Along with pruning, you may need to remove some of them to allow that air circulation.
These plants are actively growing now, but it's still okay to prune them. Plants do respond to pruning by growing and breaking bud, especially hedges like this. These do require regular pruning, so you want to keep them in shape all season long rather than getting things out of control.
Cut them back about 1/3, and then gradually keep pruning back until they are the height you want.
If you're planting a hedge for the first time, check the mature height of the plant. There are many dwarf varieties or smaller plants that you can choose to keep the plant at the height you want without continual maintenance (though all plants require some pruning).
But you don't want to hedge your Texas sages and other native plants that are being planted as hedges now in our landscapes. These plants are not true hedges and they don't respond well to that kind of pruning. Again, look for varieties that will mature to the height you want.