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Pruning-a-Leggy-Hedge-THUMB.jpg

Pruning a Leggy Hedge

My wife and I built our house in 1984. We planted a hedge of honeysuckle and lilac along the East border for privacy. It's now leggy and sparse and some main branches are 4" to 6" in diameter. Can I take this down to the ground, rent a chipper and put the waste down around the pruned plants?

The honeysuckle will tolerate ground level pruning. Since the time you planted your hedge we have found many of the honeysuckles are invasive. If your hedge contains one of the invasive honeysuckles it may be a good time to remove these and allow the lilacs to fill in. A less stressful, for you and the plants, pruning strategy is to remove a third of the stems to ground level. Start with the older, bigger, ones first. Repeat every year for three years and you will have a hedge with leaves from top to bottom. After that, remove a few older stems each year to keep the plants looking good with minimal yearly pruning.

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