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Japanese Aucuba Advice Please

YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 101
Our front 'garden' is sadly almost entirely hardstanding with just a tiny strip of soil on one side. Overhanging this is what a plant ID app suggests is Japanese Aucuba. I'm not a huge fan of the bush as it looks just a bit randomly stuck there, but that's not really my business, I suppose.  :D I've been wondering about pruning back the overhang though. I don't really like how it looks, but more so it seems to be an absolute haven for snails, and the little border is full of them. I'm not sure whether it would make any appreciable difference me cutting back our side as the Snail Bush will still be just the other side of the fence. I have images of all the snails dropping out of the bush into my border, but that may be just my imagination!  Also, I'm not sure whether it would look better aesthetically to leave it or prune it - whether it would just look odd shaped overall or ugly brown wood on our side after cutting back.

I'd love to hear what you'd do in this situation - thanks! :)



  • Chris-P-BaconChris-P-Bacon Posts: 700
    I'd have a word with your neighbour. It doesn't look healthy does it? I'd be tempted to advise your neighbour gets rid of it - they don't look like 'gardeners' from the photo.
    Don't prune it, that'll probably cause an argument - and it'll make the bush look odd (depsite it being a bit ropey). Communication is the key - but don't be too passive.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,179
    @YessicaHaircut Yes you have it right with your plant ID. You are allowed to cut any of it that hangs over your garden but you must offer the clippings back to your neighbour! I think this in it's self is likely to cause a problem. Not a pretty sight and looks odd on it's own. It can be cut back to a couple of feet and will grow bigger than ever. If you do cut some off use secateurs rather than shears. It is a very tough vigorous shrub but pruning it on one side will look odd. 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,106
    Yes, do have a word with the neighbours, point out the brown diseased-looking bits and the snails. If it turns out that they love it and want to keep it, you can maybe have a discussion about pruning it evenly so it doesn't look lopsided. With a bit of luck you might find that they don't like it either but haven't had the confidence or maybe the time to tackle it on their own if they aren't gardeners. Pretty celadines in their grass though.
  • B3B3 Posts: 21,486
    Or you could say and do nothing and let it die. It probably won't be long by the looks of it 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Robert WestRobert West Posts: 136
    Speak to them. I would suggest chopping it back to about a foot taller than the height of the fence and then trim the sides too to make it rounder rather than having a flat-top! You really can be brutal with it as they grow back strongly!

    You can actually chop them off near the ground and they usually recover just fine. They're a nice enough shrub and grow anywhere without fuss, but they do look better if they're kept in shape a bit. 

    Contrary to other people I don't think it looks that unhealthy, just needs a freshen up. They tend to drop a fair few leaves over the next month or so just before they start putting on this year's growth. This is the best time of year to prune it hard btw. By the end of the year it will be covered in fresh new leaves and will look much nicer. Tell the neighbours that! 

  • B3B3 Posts: 21,486
    They are indeed extremely hard to kill. I tried, got rid of most of them but one I had to give up. I prune it flat to the ground every year and it hasn't given up so far.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,022
    Yellowing, drooping leaves with holes in many leaves towards the base of the plant suggest that this is a case of being in the wrong place.  Aucuba japonica prefers a shaded, sheltered area, which is moist, similar to the woodland conditions where it grows best in its native country.  They will tolerate full sun and wind but the leaves will not develop that rich green background with bright yellow speckles which are welcomed by gardeners looking for a shrub that brightens up a dark shady border.  It will suffer similar symptoms if cut back, unless more protection and better soil and conditions are provided.  I've always found them slow growing but that could be down to having a light, sandy soil which they don't like.
  • YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 101
    Oh goodness, lots of input - thank you all so much!

    @B3 if I could be confident it would just give up the ghost of its own accord, that would be perfect. :D

    The next door neighbours rent the property and I suspect the aucuba was an existing 'feature' when they moved in, so they probably don't have any personal investment, but may not be free to remove either. We've only been here a year, but yes there wasn't much gardening happening last year, but they have recently cleared the bed on the other side of their drive so they may have plans for the front for this year. 

    I would have a chat and offer to prune it back on both sides, but it would literally be the first thing I've ever pruned in my life! And I'm not confident enough to have my first go on someone else's plant. :o We've been to them about a couple of things in the last fortnight, all very amiable interactions, but I don't want them to feel like we're knocking on their door with the weekly 'issue', so I'll perhaps leave it another couple of weeks. If I can manage to catch them clearing the bed around the shrub that might be the perfect opportunity for a casual chat about garden plans and how the shrub is not looking too healthy and might benefit from a cut back/reshape. 
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,031
    I would have a chat and offer to prune it back on both sides, but it would literally be the first thing I've ever pruned in my life! And I'm not confident enough to have my first go on someone else's plant. 
    It really is very easy. They can even be used as hedging plants, so you can just clip back and it won’t be harmed. It’s not a matter of deciding which stems to cut out and where!

    I agree with others that its main problem is the location—it’s just not happy there. But it will survive.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,179
    @YessicaHaircut When it has been pruned you will be looking at lots of stems sticking out. It won't be nice to look at but keep your nerve because I can guarantee it will soon be back. From every cut you make it will regrow in two places to the side of the cut.
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