TK421NotAtPost
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:56 pm
Location: Reseda, CA

Need help with my hedges

Hello,

I recently moved into a new home with a nice yard. However, there are hedges in the backyard which have been trimmed into its current box-shape for many years without being pruned properly. Instead, it looks like they've been regularly shaved on the outside to maintain their shape. As a result, the hedges have a thin layer of green and flowering on the outside and top with thousands and thousands of dry twigs and branches on the inside. Below are photos of what I'm talking about. Any advice on how to clear these twigs and branches? I've tried cutting some of the branches and pulling them out, but I'm not sure how to deal with the thousands of dead twigs which i fear will take forever to clear. Any tips or suggestions would be highly appreciated. I'd like to maintain these shrubs going forward not in their current boxy shape, but more of a natural shape. I'd also like to reduce their size a bit so that I can prune them myself properly over time instead of having to pay my gardener extra to trim them.

One of the hedges consist of Bougainvilleas and I'm not sure of what the other one is. I live in the San Fernando valley in Southern California which is very warm. The Bougains on the inside seriously look like a series of birds nests because the thick, dense twigs are catching leaves.

Here is a photo of the Bougains from a distance:
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Below are the close-ups of the twigs and branches:
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Here is the other hedge. The boxy shape is less noticeable since I had instructed our gardener to stop trimming it.
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And here is what the twigs look like:
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Lindsaylew82
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Location: Upstate, SC

Re: Need help with my hedges

You can hard prune them (when dormant) down to the first heathy node of each branch from the trunk. Use angled cuts with clean sharp shears. They grow back and fill in quickly. If you don't mind them looking stumpy after you prune severely.

All that dead growth needs to be removed. Severe pruning will allow you to remove all the rubbing branches, crossed branches, and dead wood. Then you'll have a nice, open, well blooming, naturally shaped Bougainville!
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

NatureHillsNursery
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Re: Need help with my hedges

I agree with Lindsaylew82 that you’ll need a hard prune. Be ready however to wait for results. I had to hard prune some of my shrubs last year, and this year they look pretty gnarly. A hard winter didn’t help any either. I’ll probably see my beautiful shrubs again next summer (or the following). With so much dead wood on your shrubs, it’s likely to look pretty bare once you prune, so just be ready for that. Thanks for all the great pictures—you have impressive shrubs. Happy pruning!

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Pinehelp123
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Re: Need help with my hedges

I'm in the same situation as you maybe worse. The property I bought was neglected for a few years so yeah I pruned them very hard and will shape it later the way I like it.
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applestar
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Re: Need help with my hedges

I don't have experience with this kind thing, but from what I read, you want to prune to stub only 1/3 or even only 1/4 of each plant -- since these are hedges, I assume there are more than one plant? -- at a time. So you would do this in 3 year or 4 year span before clearing ALL of the existing structure. I gather you can do this in one side to the other kind of sweep or randomly selected -- let's say 6 out of 24 -- branches (which will achieve a more natural look).

I would be interested in seeing the progression if you go ahead and do this. 8)
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TK421NotAtPost
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:56 pm
Location: Reseda, CA

Re: Need help with my hedges

Thanks for the help fellas. I will try to document the process as best as I can.

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