Answer: You shouldn't have to start all over, but you may be in for a few seasons of corrective training and pruning. It's a natural habit for photinia to grow straight up, and pruning the tips of the branches will encourage bushy growth. The beauty in photinia is contained in the red leaves they produce in the spring. Only the new leaves are red, so you'll want to encourage lots of new leaves each spring. Do this by pruning the plants back a little bit, all over, each year.
To rehabilitate your plants, begin by pruning in the spring just before new growth begins. You can safely cut back one-third of the live material at any one time. So, cut back in the spring, then wait until the following spring to prune some more. Eventually you'll have the bushy shrubs you desire, plus all the lovely red leaves these plants can produce. Annual trimming will renew the plants, encourage bushy growth, and provide an attractive hedge both you and your neighbor can enjoy.
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