The Q&A Archives: cutting hedges

Question: The hedges and shrubs are getting too wide and tall for my tiny garden. I considering cutting down the hedges from the current four to five feet to just three feet tall. What time of year should I attempt this?

One Forsythia plant grew woody stems to 10 feet tall while the rest are three feet tall and are leaning at a sharp 45 degree angle. I need to remove the tall woody stems. How to I keep the rest of the plant from collapsing to the ground?

I appreciate your help and look froward to hearing from you. -- Justin

Answer: You can remove the tallest upright stems individually by reaching into the center of the bush and cutting them off at the ground. On a forsythia, you could do that now as long as you are just selectively pruning some of those oldest stems. However, a mature size of ten feet tall and wide is not unusual for a forsythia bush and you will not be able to keep it small by pruning. If you have a lot of shrubs that are too big for the space, you may want to consider either removing some to leave ample room for the remaining plants or consider replacing them with plants that will mature to a more appropriate smaller size. In general, trying to prune to keep plants far smaller than their normal size is a losing battle.

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