Shrubs – Damaged by Boys

Q: My question is about my boxwoods that are at the front of my house. First they were used as a landing mat for my boys climbing down the drainpipes. It took me a few days to realize why the tops looked dented and crusty, and I nixed that fun game with the understanding that if the house was on fire, they were more than welcome to climb down the drain and jump into the bushes, but at no other time would it be acceptable.

Not able to play on top of the boxwoods, they naturally decided to climb under them. Exciting, but not quite enough room for the three of them.

Being resourceful, and knowing I was busy, they took it upon themselves to use my gardening shears to clip the branches that were in their way, but they didn’t pull out the branches. It took me longer to realize that huge sections of the front of the boxwoods were not quite the same color as the rest. They were dying.

I pulled away the dead branches and now there are huge holes in this section of my foundation planting.

Will they recover, or should I just use them as chainsaw practice?

And do you know anyone who wants to buy three boys? They’re very good at clipping plants and digging holes, so they might be useful to some landscaper.

A: Theresa Schrum comments: “You know what they say: ‘Girls have issues, boys break things.’

” I have girls. And I don’t think your shrubs are boxwoods. They look like one of the small-leafed hollies. Believe it or not, whether they’re boxwoods or hollies, you can give them a rejuvenation pruning. Cut them all the way back to about 1 foot tall – even if that makes them leafless. They’ll sprout back out pretty quickly and fill in nicely before long.

“One more piece of advice: hide the clippers when you’re finished.”

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