The Q&A Archives: Overgrown evergreen shrubs

Question: My daughter and her husband purchased a beautiful victorian home with pine needle evergreen shrubs that are nearly 4 feet tall. I have pruned them down about a foot a couple of years ago and try to keep them at that height so they are full, but I would really like to get them a couple of feet shorter. If I prune them that severly, will they do ok, or will I be sorry? Thank you for your help.

Answer: It is possible to prune too severely and end up with dead or terribly misshapen shrubs. Since you've already pruned them down by a third and are keeping them at that height, you may be able to gradually reduce their size even more by pruning twice a year instead of once a year. Pruning encourages new growth so a once-over with shears in the spring and again in mid-summer should allow you to slowly reduce the size of the plants while still keeping them full and dense. I'd avoid cutting them down more than a third in any one pruning session.

Best wishes with your project!

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