Proper pruning clips and thins

Here’s a boxwood hedge, in the middle of being sheared and thinned, which has been its lot once each year for ten years. Even after ten years of being kept to 2/3 its potential size it is healthy, holds its shape and the leaves retain their size and color.

Here’s a boxwood hedge, in the middle of being sheared and thinned, which has been its lot once each year for ten years. Even after ten years of being kept to 2/3 its potential size it is healthy, holds its shape and the leaves retain their size and color.

For more than ten years, this boxwood hedge has been sheared without any thinning cuts. The proliferation of thin branches and concentration of foliage at the tips catches rain, snow, ice and wind. The weak branches do not bear the pressure. The shrubs splay. Dead tips and gaps appear.

For more than ten years, this boxwood hedge has been sheared without any thinning cuts. The proliferation of thin branches and concentration of foliage at the tips catches rain, snow, ice and wind. The weak branches do not bear the pressure. The shrubs splay. Dead tips and gaps appear.

Pruning finished. The hedge was not only clipped down…

Pruning finished. The hedge was not only clipped down…

…but many branches like this were removed in thinning cuts.

…but many branches like this were removed in thinning cuts.

Rejuvenating an abused hedge

If your shrubs have begun to show signs of exhaustion, you probably can rejuvenate them. Exhaustion of very long standing may be beyond a turn-around but it is always worth trying. Plants have an incredible will to live.

We’ve cut this old boxwood hedge to reduce its height, reshape it, remove all of the dead wood and most of the weak wood.

We’ve cut this old boxwood hedge to reduce its height, reshape it, remove all of the dead wood and most of the weak wood.

It’s see through in many places but its lively wood now has sunlight and fresh air to work with.

It’s see through in many places but its lively wood now has sunlight and fresh air to work with.

Here’s that hedge 18 months later, filling in those see-through areas. We’ve cut again to remove the remaining clutter. We’ve also refined its shape…

Here’s that hedge 18 months later, filling in those see-through areas. We’ve cut again to remove the remaining clutter. We’ve also refined its shape…

…narrower at the top than the bottom so upper foliage doesn’t shade out lower. Its well on its way to full recovery.

…narrower at the top than the bottom so upper foliage doesn’t shade out lower. Its well on its way to full recovery.

Maybe the most important part of rejuvenation pruning? Take and keep a "before" picture so you remember the plant's original distress.

Maybe the most important part of rejuvenation pruning? Take and keep a "before" picture so you remember the plant's original distress.