Answer: You should be able to lightly trim your holly every spring without having the branches die so I wonder if you are pruning off too much at one time? The best approach is to prune it back just a little each spring, just as new growth begins. If your holly is very overgrown you may need to reduce the size over a period of 2-3 years. Start by cutting everything back by 5-6 inches. Next spring, prune back another 5-6 inches, and repeat for as many years as it takes to reduce the size of your shrub. Once it is at the right height and width you can keep it there by pruning it back a little each spring. Good luck with your holly.
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