Q: I would like my 9-foot tea olives to fill in with leaves at the bottom half. How can I make that happen?
A: This is tough. One option is to prune off the top of your shrub, which will force the dormant leaf buds to start growing. But this “pruning effect“ is very local. Dormant buds will not start growing if they are further than 10 inches away from the pruning cut. So you can’t clip the top of the shrub and expect buds several feet away to make leaves.
If you are unwilling to do severe Pruning, another option is to simply hide the bare branches with vertical plants nearby. I particularly like autumn fern, nandina, and aucuba for this. occasional pruning might be required but that’s easy to accomplish.