How do I "Tidy" these up?

I have a customer who would like these tidied up off the drive.  Can I cut them back at this time of year?  I did try cutting them halfway to a pointed end but they didn't really look right. I know I should know this but I'm having a (lengthy) moment!

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  • Hi Darren,

     If it were me id begin by removing the longest of the leaves fully back to the centre, that areclosest lying on the ground.Then thin out about a third of the other leaves. thats all Id do. Dont cut Phormiums in half or anything as it tends to burn at the cut and die off, looks crap too. You can do it now but dont do too much in one go.But I imagine the client expects you to be severe??,keep going back to them and get their input so as you dont butcher it in their eyes. thats my tuppence worth  anyway.

  • PRO

    agree with above -- remove outer leaves as close to ground/ base without damaging inner leaves - you can cut them into a shape and reduce but will brown and scar. Ideally its a late spring job and you can remove all the leaves apart from the centre growth points - depending on how old they are and how many clusters of growth points have developed 

    however this is one of those 'annoying' jobs in which whatever you do is a waste of time - most phormiums get pretty big within a reasonable time frame and whoever planted them didnt take into account the limited space available in that situ so close to cars and driveway. 

    How about removal and replant something more suitable ?

    • Your right Dan,

      Get rid of em as they will only drive everybody soft in the end. Id imagine Euphorbia wulfini would grow well enough there?? evergreen beautiful and tough.

      • PRO

        Agreed - i hate 'pointless' jobs over and over again - 

        And they have a fancy drive ;) not sure the lady of the house will like 'brushing up' against those leaves in the summer in a short skirt. 

        Lots of options for replant - depending on aspect - its obviously going to be massively dry-- loads of Euphorbia types -- lavender options -- even taller tropicals with leaves out stretched above head height . 

        Id def push a replant and make some extra money on something that will suit it better. 

  • PRO
    So many of these in my gardens I have become an expert in keeping them under control! Some are the size of an old mini! Start by removing any old brown leaves as low as poss, then remove as low as possible any leaves that are touching the ground or sticking out at odd angles. Never cut every leaf and never partway always to the base. Do some then stand back and look and keep going till the are a good shape. But yes these look young and will eventually impede cutting the hedge and cause dead patches on the hedge if left to grow to full size.
  • PRO
    Not very inspiring are they?
    • PRO

      I don't feel you will tame them by giving them a haircut owing to their sprawling habit but its all you have to work with , I would remove enough leaves to try and achieve some symmetry  Are they screening something white at the back ?, can't tell if its a junction box / sensor  . 

  • PRO

    Cheers folks, I guess it's a case of a bit at a time. 

    The customer spent a significant amount of money on the garden, prior to us getting involved.  I'm not sure it was thought out as well as it could have been.  Getting the conifer debris off the slate is also quite difficult.

  • Hated these with a passion in NZ, where alas there are a lot of them!!. Cut back right at ground level was my MO.

    • I have come to detest phormiums as well! They now grate on my eye and are a nightmare to remove when they inevitably get too big. The coloured ones revert so easily, too.

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