Hollies Too Big? Connecticut Landscape Experiment
All too often, landscapers and homeowners rely on hedge trimmers to maintain plant size and height. The problem with this approach is a very dense, unnatural looking shrub where all the foliage is only at the outer most edges of the plant. A plant that is so dense is a perfect environment for diseases and insects to set up camp. Also, trimming a plant with hedge trimmers makes controlling height even more difficult because all those new little branches love to push a lot of growth. At Designing Eden, we are able to keep our clients landscapes looking natural and at a desired height for years. That could be one of the biggest misconceptions about how we maintain landscapes. When we are on new clients properties after they have gone a long stretch without any garden maintenance, clients are always delighted to know that it is possible to tame their shrubs back to a more desirable size. It’s the same story with clients who have had another landscape company maintaining their landscape with hedge trimmers for years. It is possible, it just might take a little longer to get to the desired result because we have to reverse the damage done by the years of hedge trimming. Finally, new landscape design and installation clients are pleasantly surprised when I tell them they might not have to rip out all of their overgrown foundation plants. As long as they don’t need a finished landscape when we leave their property, it is possible. Here is an experiment we did on a property in Middlebury, CT. We were on this property to improve their current landscape. Instead of replacing the existing Hollies with Boxwoods, which was the original plan, we decided to save some money and cut the hollies back hard, below the windows, and see how long they would take to fill back in. The thought was if it took too long for the Hollies to come back, we would go through with our original plan and remove them. The money savings would be significant so we all decided to give it a try. Here is the before picture. As you can see, the hollies were a foot above the windows and the clients where hoping to reduce their size by quite a bit. Here are the hollies right after cutting them back hard.Surprisingly, the Hollies are filling in nicely and quicker than anticipated. Here they are 2 months later.
Here are the Hollies after 5 months. Was the experiment successful? I think so. At the end of the day, I was surprised how quickly they responded. I originally told the client they would look acceptable by the second growing season. As you can see, the hollies are now at the desired height and looking acceptable just a couple of months later.
After 32 years of maintaining landscapes, I still don’t know all the answers. I experiment with plants and landscapes all the time. This one worked out for the best.