Answer: It is usually not a good idea to dig in the area of underground utilities. If you do any digging at all please be extremely careful. The rhododendrons are very shallow rooted and might actually be a good choice for that very reason, as would Japanese Andromeda (Pieris). You might be able to remove the overpruned evergreens and then prune the existing rhododendrons back and shape them so they look a bit better and then face them with several smaller growing azaleas which are also shallow rooted. This would spruce things up without requiring excess digging. You could also consider using a raised bed planting area, and this would increase your plant choice dramatically. I hope this gives you some ideas.
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