The Q&A Archives: pruning holly trees

Question: I have two very tall holly trees at the front corners of my house. They reach above my two story house roof line. Can the trees be pruned to a smaller size and shape? The previous owner planted the trees too close to the house. I live in Roanoke, Virginia. If the trees can be pruned, when is the best time to do it?

Answer: If you're going to prune your hollies, now is the best time. If you wait to prune in summer you will be cutting off the potential berries. You can gently prune your holly on an annual basis to keep it under control but severe pruning should be done over a period of years. In order to maintain health you should not remove more than one third of the live growth on your shrubs in any one pruning session. So. reduce the size by one third this spring, then reduce it again next spring and again the following spring. If you prune back to bare wood all at once, the holly may not produce new foliage so cut it back slowly to force new growth just behind the cut and new growth in front of the cut. Best wishes with your hollies!

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