Azalea dilema

Hi all-
I've lived in my home for 1.5 years, and when we moved in, the previous owners had 2 azalea bushes. Both are about 12 feet tall and about 10ft. wide. They are enormous. I don't want to remove them because I believe that they have been on the property a long time...
The problem is...I pruned them last year quite a bit (still too large), but I began cutting very thick branches just under the surface of the leaves. I want the bush to be much smaller, but do I need to cut it down to nothing, and hope it grows back? I am willing to cut the whole thing so there is nothing left but a stump and let it revive itself, but is that the best way to have it "start over" ?
Thanks for any help.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

How old is your house ? How old are you and how much do you like this stuff ? I'd purchase or start propagating news ones and do it now. Layering sounds like a viable option. Place a rock on a low branch which is covered with dirt. Wait 2 years and separate.
Ours are getting leggy and strained so slowly in with the new and out with the old. Meanwhile the old lingers about here as we are attached to them. We chose good variety's 35 years and had just a few problems mostly some sort of insect that likes to suck on the bottom of the leaves.
Still just ordered 12 deciduous azaleas. My better picks up a few that catches her eye too. But our mist propagating years are 25 years ago are done.
Seems a few kids took our attention.
Bill who prefers pines and bamboo's.
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA

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Our house is 85 years old and I can only imagine that the azalea is about 30 years old. I like the azaleas...however, I am not attached to them...if I do remove them, are there tricks removing such a behemoth?

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

with a vehicle or a come-along. I removed 14 of the huge ones here in 1990 so I could put in a vegetable garden. They're generally not deeply rooted and are usually easy to move.
I moved several of them up under three oak trees on a slope, put leaves and compost over the roots that were just sitting on the ground. They're still growing and have covered the area I wanted covered. The rest I dragged behind a car over to the neighbor next door and he planted them along a fence as a hedge. Covered the roots just as I did. They're still growing.
I don't know about where you live but azaleas can be hard to kill down here in SW Louisiana.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If necessary, you can remove a great deal of material. It is a general rule to not remove over 1/3 of the leaf area each year. Pruning is generally used to control unsatisfactory height or width of a plant. I don't prune very often and try to limit pruning to plants which have a shape that is unsatisfactory or dead branches. If I want to cut trusses for bouquets, I always cut the tallest flowers since this helps keep the plant within bounds.
Severe pruning is not uncommon with rhododendrons and azaleas. A healthy plant can be cut to the ground and will usually come back. Rhododendrons and azaleas have dormant buds beneath the bark which sprout to form new growth after severe pruning. However, Richard Colbert reported that such attempts at Tyler Arboretum were only successful if the plant had enough sun light. Those in heavy shade frequently died. He recommend first opening up the shade by thinning the forest canopy. Then he recommends just removing some of the top to induce new growth at the base. Then when that new growth is established, the remainder of the top can be removed.
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When we moved into our house, the previous owners had pruned the azaleas back to a stump at ground level. They were even with the ground and I didn't even know what they were until the next year or 2. I have done very light to no pruning until last year, and one was taller than me. The other was up to the eaves, about 1-12 feet. I did cut them back to around 5 feet last year, and I wish I had followed everyone's suggestions to leave them alone. In spite of cutting them while the withered bloom was still on, they put out a pitiful show this year and I really missed it. In years past, all you can see is solid fuschia from ground to top.
Vicky

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