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Old April 9, 2017   #1
TexasTycoon
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Default Red-tipped Photinia

Our future home has huge overgrown red-tipped photinia lining the back fence as a privacy screen from the two-story house behind us. I want to try to prune them into a more tree-like shape, but I'm not sure how to do it (aside from just going to town with the loppers haha). Any tips? Can I even prune them into this shape, or is that shape only attained by training them as they grow? Here's what they look like right now (sorry for the quality, these were just what I had on my phone, I didn't specifically take pictures of the photinia...the second ones were what I sent my FIL after we mowed the backyard):
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Old April 9, 2017   #2
JoParrott
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Since they are so big you will end up with a lot of bare branches when you prune the first time. But if you want to get a specific shape you have to start somewhere! They look to be really healthy- I lived in LA many years and in the humidity black spot disease was a big problem with redtips- especially where air flow was not the best.
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Old April 10, 2017   #3
loulac
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Originally Posted by TexasTycoon View Post
Our future home has huge overgrown red-tipped photinia lining the back fence... I want to try to prune them into a more tree-like shape,
A photinia will have a tree-like shape if it grows alone on a lawn at a nice distance from another tree. I suppose you would like to have a more tidy hedge. As it has never been trimmed for years a serious work has to be done with a chainswaw, top and sides to give it the shape of a decent hedge. Choose the right height : the higher it is the more private your place will be but the more difficult your job will be to trim the top later.
The first year it will be perfectly ugly with its skeleton of branches but new shootings will soon come and one year later it will start to look nice. I trim my hedge in November but I suggest you check the right period, just google "photinia" and you will have plenty of answers.
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Old April 10, 2017   #4
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So thats what those things are.

I moved into a rent house one time the darn thing was almost covering up the door.
I had to cut it back big time.
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Old April 10, 2017   #5
TexasTycoon
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Originally Posted by JoParrott View Post
Since they are so big you will end up with a lot of bare branches when you prune the first time. But if you want to get a specific shape you have to start somewhere! They look to be really healthy- I lived in LA many years and in the humidity black spot disease was a big problem with redtips- especially where air flow was not the best.
Yeah, they're everywhere here as builders seem to think they're just great in our area, but they are very susceptible to disease (especially when they're so close together like that). Bare branches don't bother me, the main thing that bothers me right now is it's very difficult to mow that section of the yard since you have to sidle up right next to them, and the bees which are all over them for the blooms get a little annoyed. I think trimming the bases up to fence height would be more practical and still provide privacy from the neighbors.

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A photinia will have a tree-like shape if it grows alone on a lawn at a nice distance from another tree. I suppose you would like to have a more tidy hedge. As it has never been trimmed for years a serious work has to be done with a chainswaw, top and sides to give it the shape of a decent hedge. Choose the right height : the higher it is the more private your place will be but the more difficult your job will be to trim the top later.
The first year it will be perfectly ugly with its skeleton of branches but new shootings will soon come and one year later it will start to look nice. I trim my hedge in November but I suggest you check the right period, just google "photinia" and you will have plenty of answers.
Yep, I think we'll have to wait until fall since I know you're not supposed to prune these guys until they're dormant. Just good to know that I can trim them to that shape and it's not something that the plant needed to be trained into as it was maturing.

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So thats what those things are.

I moved into a rent house one time the darn thing was almost covering up the door.
I had to cut it back big time.
Yep, they get out of control! I hate the way the flowers smell, too. At least they're pretty. If it were up to me, I'd replace them with a few crape myrtles, but that's a big project and they've already removed two willows from that backyard (that's what those two bare patches in the yard used to be). I think I'll just try to make the most of them for now.
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Old May 28, 2017   #6
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Well, just in case anyone wanted an update, this is what the backyard looks like now. The photinia needed to be trimmed to get to the fence to replace it, and they were the only thing holding up the back fence. I may still train them into a more tree-like shape as they get bigger and grow back, but for now this is what we have!
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Old May 28, 2017   #7
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Wait till they start growing and cut them back to one to two vertical trunks going up.
Then when they get way above the fence you can let them branch out.
Do this by each year cutting back the branches closer to the ground slowly moving up as you go.
Soon you will have a canopy to walk under not a big bush.

Many of these bushes are really huge trees that have been turned into a bush anyway.
You can have an oleander tree not bush by doing this too.
Same with a pomegranate
Here are oleander trees that have been properly taken care of and trimmed.
Not the unsightly things with suckers.

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Old May 28, 2017   #8
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Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Wait till they start growing and cut them back to one to two vertical trunks going up.
Then when they get way above the fence you can let them branch out.
Do this by each year cutting back the branches closer to the ground slowly moving up as you go.
Soon you will have a canopy to walk under not a big bush.
Sounds like a good plan to me! I wanna plant some shade plants in the dirt under them too, it's so black and rich looking from being covered up with dead leaves decomposing for so long.
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Old May 28, 2017   #9
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Kelly what you have done now is more or less called pollarding sort of crossed with coppicing.
You are going to end up with a ton of new growth all over those stumps.
If you would have posted about what to do I would have recommended leaving one trunk going up and cutting the rest back to the trunk all the way up above the fence.
But no big deal now you will just have to get a good set of loppers and be diligent about it for awhile.
Your young and have the time.

Worth
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Old May 28, 2017   #10
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Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Kelly what you have done now is more or less called pollarding sort of crossed with coppicing.
You are going to end up with a ton of new growth all over those stumps.
If you would have posted about what to do I would have recommended leaving one trunk going up and cutting the rest back to the trunk all the way up above the fence.
But no big deal now you will just have to get a good set of loppers and be diligent about it for awhile.
Your young and have the time.

Worth
It wasn't up to me, unfortunately, my FIL and SMIL own the house and hired someone to do it without me knowing. But I don't mind putting in the work!
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Old May 29, 2017   #11
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I didn’t guess there was a fence behind the photinias. As you decided to keep it you have a choice of solutions : Worth’s solution is quite elegant and won’t need a lot of maintenance. You can as well create a new fence but in both cases I suggest you leave enough empty space to reach the wooden fence and protect it with the right stuff from time to time. Does it belong to you or do you share it with your neighbor ? Another solution : a wire mesh would have needed no maintenance and would have been hidden by the photinias.
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