Advice on shaping a mature Holly bush

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Old 02-02-19, 12:12 PM
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Advice on shaping a mature Holly bush

25 years ago I planted a Holly bush in the curve of my driveway and it has done well ever since. It is now 10 feet tall and probably 30 feet in circumference. Its size makes it difficult and dangerous for me to trim the top of the bush in the summer and it has encroached over the pavement by about two feet.

I have inquired at my local Extension office who agreed I could just cut the top out of it-maybe three feet or take it back close to the ground and let it regrow and maintain its shape from a much shorter height.. The first (which I have already done) makes it ugly and the alternative seems draconian..

The bush has a base that is about 30-36 inches in circumference and about a foot above the ground it branches into two separate stalks about 15-18 inches in circumference. I was thinking about leaving only the two stalks standing to a point about 6 feet above the ground and try to maintain a taller but skinnier plant into the future.

Is this a realistic plan and if so, how close to the each of the trunk stalks should I cut all the branches and should I fertilize the plant in the spring? Thanks.
 
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Old 02-02-19, 12:37 PM
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When it comes to trimming, there isn't much better than actually SEEING someone do it, while learning the basics of what to do, and what NOT to do. So I would suggest you just go to youtube and type in "trimming holly" watch a few videos on what others have done and learn what you can.

A bush that has never been trimmed is obviously going to look lanky and unruly until it has time to be shaped and grow back, so you just need to accept that. One single trimming is not going to make a beautiful bush instantly, but after a few years of prolonged care, it can be trimmed to look as you like and be easier to take care of as a result.

Sorry if this doesn't answer your question, but trimming bushes is a little hard to describe sight unseen. Knowing how much to cut off without damaging the health of the plant is also important... (the 1/3 rule is a good rule of thumb) as is how much to prune off of side branches... being careful not to cut too much off the branches so that that it will sprout new growth quickly.

The size and diameter of the bush is something you can control. If you have a branch that forks about 16" above the ground... I might cut the outside fork completely off to control the diameter of the plant. People often make the mistake of just letting things get too big... at which point it can make it even harder to care for. I'm often accused of butchering the landscaping because by the time its my turn to do the pruning, no one has had the brains to cut the plant back... they just snip here and there (giving the bush a "haircut" instead of a pruning) and the plant just gets bigger and bigger. I'm a big proponent of controlling the landscaping, not letting it control you.
 
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Old 02-04-19, 12:46 PM
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Thanks. I did watch some of the videos. They did not demonstrate what I am contemplating but in a one sentence statement they did say it would be satisfactory with a 3-4 year wait for it to attain a decent shape.

If this does not work or if I do not like the new shape at least I will have some leverage with a strong central stalk to attach my tractor to pull out the stump.
 
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Old 02-04-19, 02:48 PM
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A forklift on a skid loader also works well.
 
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Old 02-04-19, 03:32 PM
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Hard to comment with out seeing....but take your loppers and go inside three feet and take out three foot branches...at a good place (where a small branch is heading out, not in.) Go all the way around. Wear goggles.

If it does not leaf out and look better in June....fire up the tractor.
 
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Old 02-05-19, 07:24 AM
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Further thought says 3 feet is not correct. Go in two feet. Assumption is that 30 feet in circumference = 10 feet in diameter.
 
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