Q: I have some holly shrubs in front of my townhouse that are swallowing a blooming bush. My question is: should I cut back the holly bushes to stumps? Will they bud in the spring?
A: I attended a lecture recently in which Landscape Architect Bruce Holliday discussed the need to consider the ultimate size of a plant before installing in front of windows. Both your hollies and your blooming azalea are very tolerant of pruning and if you prune every year, you can keep them below the window.
That said, the best time to prune the hollies is in late Feb. You can cut them to 12″ and allow regrowth to not exceed 24″ by performing judicious pruning afterwards.
The azalea can be pruned at the same time if you don’t mind missing the flowers in April. Otherwise, prune immediately after blooming.
Another option would be to replace the hollies with a low-growing Indian hawthorn.