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Need help to identify this plant and decide what to do with it

Dear Gardeners,

I would like to try and identify the attached plant and work out what I can do.

It's quite large and certainly for next year I would like to reduce it significantly to allow more light. Additionally, next door have politely asked if I would consider reducing it as it is sucking a lot of water from their garden and blocking the sunlight to their lawn.

I'm happy to accommodate.

My overall goal is to have a hedge between the houses of no more than 1 metre in height and similar in width.

Because it's quite large I'm wondering on the best course of action:

a) Completely remove it? How hard would it be to get the roots out if I took this approach?

b) Can I reduce it into a nice hedge which is say 1 metre high? My thoughts are that the "internal" branches are wider than one metre anyway and if I start chopping it down all I would be left with is a mass of brown branches and no green. If I took this approach would the green leaves eventually come back?

Long term how easy is this plant to manage? Could I achieve what I want and stay on top of it? Or should I remove it and replant something less.... large?

I've attached some pictures of the plant and would welcome some advice.




  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,562
    it's a bit of a monster isn't it? 
    Some sort of rhododendron. 
    The don't respond well to be hard pruning but you can remove some stems completely which will open it up and allow more light into it so it won't be so " dense".
    To get it to 1m high and wide is a bit optimistic, but you could do it over the course of a a few years, removing roughly 1/3 of the stems each year.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,361
    It is a Rhodedendron.
    They can be pruned quite severely, but you will probably lose next years flowers.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,645
    It's a rhododendron.   Best to prune it back after the flowers finish next spring.  You could, however, cut out all obvious dead and damged stems now without losing the flowers.

    However, if you're desperate to reduce the size as soon as possible and don't mind losing the flowers you can cut it back hard anytrime form November to March but I would say sooner is better and always on a day when no frost is forecast to damage the fresh wounds.  Make sure your secateurs and loppers are clean and sharp.  Give it a good mulch of soil enriching compost or manure after pruning and after a good rainfall.

    Have a look at thi info on rhodo car and scroll down to pruning then follow the evergreen link. 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks all for the detailed replies.

    I think I'm going to completely remove it and then replant with something I can manage.

    Would I need to use a hedge trimmer or a chain saw? How bad will the roots be to take out?

    Thanks again.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,562
    the roots don't go deep, but they form a very thick , fibrous mat. Cut the top growth but leave the stems about 3 or 4 feet so you can use these as levers. 
    I think you may have to remove it in chunks .
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,963
    Yes- you can prune back, but I'd agree it could be tricky, as hard cutting back can just see them off. They need to be kept in check as you go along. 
    I think @Hostafan1's method is always the easiest. They aren't really too hard to get out though. 
    If you replant with the same type of shrub, they can be kept to a suitable height by pruning after flowering  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hi Hexagon, our neighbour is very reasonable about it. We will replace it with something and then keep on top of it. We are not keen gardeners if I'm completely honest. This is too large and is blocking a lot of light from our front room unfortunately. But I agree that it's not ideal in today's environmental conscious age to completely remove it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,963
    If you look down at the bottom, you may find pieces which have rooted, or are running across at ground level and can be rooted. Rhodies are propagated quite easily that way.
    It would take a while to get them to any size though. 

    You could cut back the existing ones a bit, and see how well they come back. If they do, you can repeat the process until you get them to a more reasonable size, but it would take a while. You can certainly lop a good bit off the top. Depends how keen you are to have a go  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,657
    I would be inclined to ask your neighbour at what height they would be happy with first. 1 metre sounds a bit low to me as a boundary between houses, I would suggest 1.5 instead. Also 1 metre wide is too wide to easily cut the top across, 2 ft would be easier.
    Finally, I would just go ahead and cut it down to the agreed height now, then you could judge whether that's to your mutual liking. It would be a big hard job to take the existing hedge out, especially if you're not keen on gardening, unless you get somebody in to do it for you. You would then have the faff of choosing, buying, planting and watering a new hedge which would take several years to look good. I'm all for an easier life! 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Thanks all for the advice.

    I think where we are at present is that we will remove it and replant early next year.

    It is blocking a lot of light and making that side of the house very dark and damp.

    Points taken on the effort to put in a new hedge but it must be easier than managing this one! 
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