My garden includes a holly tree about the height of my house. It's a fine specimen in good health but the position means it is blocking the view from a bedroom window.

Ideally I'd take it out entirely but it also provides valuable screening at lower level from the road passing our house.

If I could reduce it in height about 50% this would be a good compromise but I've no idea if hollies respond well to this and it would look terrible... Also not sure how to do it as holly is so prickly!

It's actually more like a very tall, narrow bush than a tree... Several trunks rise up together.

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  • By the way what are all these 'tentacles' in the 2nd photo? Just new shoots? Is it normal to have so many trunks or does this indicate it was maybe cut down to a stump previously?
    – Mr. Boy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


You can reduce the height by up to half, but if you do, it will grow in an ugly shape afterwards. Holly tends to apical domination, meaning it gives a good approximation of a pyramidal shape if left to its own devices - reducing the height means you will get more than one branch regrowing from the cut areas, so the pyramidal shape will be lost.

It's also a nasty job, so you might want to consider paying an arborist to come and do it for you, or at least consult with one about it.

  • So once we do this, it will require maintenance to keep it tidy basically - more like a hedge or shaped tree it might need attacking with hedge trimmers once every year or two?
    – Mr. Boy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:12
  • Yes - but unless you actually take it down and treat it like a hedge, trimming a couple or three times a year, it will still try to grow in a ghastly shape. Take advice from an arborist
    – Bamboo
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:31
  • We have one coming for another job so I will... I'd hoped to just take it out until I realised it is covering a gap in the main here!
    – Mr. Boy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:33
  • You could consider having it removed, then replanting with Arborvitae (Thuja) which are not too slow growing, and a helluva lot easier to keep in shape over time
    – Bamboo
    Jun 20, 2017 at 12:56

Remove the large trunks, It should be safe for the holly tree. Just that it take one or two years to have a nice tree from other trunks (before that, the leaves and branches will be imbalanced in few directions.

  • Removing trunks isn't going to affect the height only the width though.
    – Mr. Boy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:45

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