I have a 12 year old hedge of "Helleri" Holly that the bottom has...

Asked September 1, 2014, 1:36 PM EDT

I have a 12 year old hedge of "Helleri" Holly that the bottom has become woody, with sparse leaves. The top 25% is nice and green and dense. How can I rejuvenate this hedge?

Queen Anne's County Maryland shrubs holly hedge

1 Response

Your hedge is sparse at the bottom because it has been improperly pruned. Do not prune it now. When you prune, new growth is generated at the point of the cut. New growth now will not have a chance to harden off before frost. Do severe pruning in early spring before new growth starts--roughly March. You want to make your cuts where you want the new growth. http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG84_Pruning%20ornam... One approach would be to cut the entire hedge back to a foot or so from the ground. Another approach would be cut some branches close to the ground or to where one branch joins another and then next year cut other branches back. The next year prune more branches close to the ground. Keep in mind that where you cut is where you will get growth. Also keep in mind that the hedge should always be maintained in such a way that it is wider at the bottom than at the top. If it is wide at the top, the top will shade the bottom and keep it from having leaves. A third approach would be to cut about a foot below the desired height, being sure that the bottom of the hedge is wider than the top. In general cut right above a bud or at the intersection of one branch to another. See the above pub for more information. vw