A New Look for Miss Nelly Stevens
Apparently there is one more thing you need to do regularly - in addition to flossing.
Prune your hollies.
Watch the video of Mike Dudderar, landscape supervisor of Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, and his crew as they give my Nelly Stevens holly a pretty dramatic hair cut.
Mike explained that a Nelly Stevens wants to grow to 35 to 45 high and extend about 12 to 15 feet at the bottom. I was a rookie gardener 25 years ago when I planted this holly about 6 feet from the corner of the house.
Mike also explained that pruning the holly at this time of year - between February and May - will cause it to release hormones that will sustain a growth "flush." That means the holly will quickly fill in any bare spots that might reveal themselves during such a close cut.
That's the good news. The bad news is, the growth spurt also means this holly will probably need another trimming in the fall to get it into is attractive cone shape. I waited too long - about 2 years - between prunings.
When choosing a tree for your yard, Mike advises, not only look for trees that do well in your area, but take a look at how large they become. That will help you know what to choose and how to place it near your house.
PS. Don't try this at home. You will need professionals to help you shape a tree this size.