The Q&A Archives: How far apart should photinias be planted?

Question: The house we bought nearly 6 years ago had a row of photinias planted as a screen/hedge to the greenbelt and walking path behind the house. However these shrubs seem to be planted very close together and the health of these shrubs is questionable. Should we remove every other plant to promote growth and health? The current shrubs are planted two feet or less with a total of 17 photinias. The shrubs are approximately 10 years old.

Answer: Hedge plantings are traditionally very tight, especially for a formally trimmed hedge, although in my experience planting a bit further apart is preferable. At this point I don't think you will be able to remove every other one, the roots will have become thoroughly entwined below ground so digging them out is not practical. Cutting them off short will simply cause them to regrow.

Photinias are subject to numerous pest and disease problems so close spacing may not really be the cause of the problem(s) you are seeing. I would suggest you work with your county extension to determine what is happening to them, then work from there. It is possible a hard pruning and good follow up care could rejuvenate it for you. I'm sorry I can't be more specific for you.

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