How far to prune?

Now that I've raked a good part of my front yard and am suffering for it... (Oooh, my sides!... Can't justify the lawn vac right now...), I thought I would do something a little less active. Pruning.
We have these plants bordering the edge of our rear patio that have become very top heavy. They have green leaves at the top and is bare and dead looking at the bottom.
For a healthier looking shrub next year with more lower leaf coverage, how far should I be cutting this back? My instincts tell me, pretty far. I know this will mean a lot smaller bushes, but I would rather that than have dead looking ones.
Close up of the plant;
http://purplelinny.com/greenery/pics/pruners3.jpg
Row of the same;
http://purplelinny.com/greenery/pics/pruners2.jpg
Should I be hacking these babies right back? Also, can anyone identify these plants for me please? And is this an okay time to be doing this in moderate S. Texas? TIA. -- Lynda the amateur
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Not all shrubs will respond well to hard pruning, specially those which have been allowed to get out of control. You may get just a collection of dead looking sticks which never regenerate much, if any, green.
You may be in luck. Although it is difficult to tell precisely from the pics (specially for my poor old eyes), your shrubs look like a form of privet - perhaps common or Chinese privet - and privet DOES respond to hard pruning. Generally it is recommended on flowering shrubs like this to prune after bloom, however privet flowers are no big deal. Winter pruning should be fine.
Again, it is hard to tell from the pics, but these shrubs look like they might be in a fair amount of shade, which could account for their scruffy form and leggy appearance. And since privet is not considered a very desireable plant and one not ideally suited to shade, you might want to consider replanting with something better for this situation and and with a more suitable height. I'm sure one of the other Texas posters could make suggestions.
pam - gardengal
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wrote: <snipped here and there>

Aha. Yes, it does remind me of an unwieldy privet hedge I ended up removing altogether in England. However, the leaves on these shrubs here are smaller and have a serated edge. The pictures weren't very good - it was dusk the other evening when I took them.

Great. This should give me a certain amount of pleasure...

Okey dokey. You're right that they are in a bit of shade - they actually face east but there are a couple of large trees in the way. I think I'll take my chances and hack them back, see what happens in the spring and replace if necessary. I'm not a privet lover anyway and would appreciate any suggestions for a good bordering plant that can survive a small amount of shade. I would prefer a little height but that's not essential. I have these things bordering everywhere else right now...
http://purplelinny.com/greenery/pics/borders.JPG and am a bit sick of the sight of them :-/ Erm... again, identification would be appreciated... I didn't see these in England either!
Thanks for the advice Pam. And thanks for the patience of others with my ignorance on native plants in these parts! -- Lynda
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wrote: <snipped>

Scratch that. Have just looked at Paghat's website and found all I needed to know :-)
Excellent, excellent site Paghat the ratgirl! -- Lynda
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On Tue, 16 Dec 2003 16:17:38 GMT, Lynda LeCompte

The border plants are Aspidistra aka cast iron plant (name should suggest why you have so much of it).
I couldn't get much out of the other pics to add to others' ideas (but if it has serrated margins, it is not mtn. laurel as was suggested earlier). But the tree just behind the shrubs is almost certainly a crape myrtle.
For a replacement idea, should it come to that, you might like yaupon holly. fairly shade tolerant, but looks a lot like what you've posted. you can get dwarf varieties, which you will want in this site--the natural form would grow to 10 feet tall or more. I'm not sure how far south you are, but I suspect the yaupon can do fine almost anywhere in TX.
K For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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wrote:

Aha - thank you. I did a quick search to see what I'm supposed to be doing with these things. Looks like I can't really go wrong and I will stick some in pots to bring inside too.

Right. I was going to respond to that other post, but my news feed went all goofy until just now. Apologies to the other poster... Again, I searched for some pics of mtn. laurel and it isn't what I have here. It's dark now, but I will take some better pics to help with id.
The other poster suggested transplanting them, but I think I'm just going to chop them down fairly low and see how they fair in the spring.

It most certainly is :-) I have a few of those around - my favorites to look at.

I'm fairly south... near Houston. I think I have some of that yaupon holly around already. There are several types of berry plants around my property. I've cut some for decoration indoors as it's so pretty. I'll be glad when I become more familiar with the plants in this lovely garden I've inherited. Which leads me onto post another question... /starts new post.
Thanks for the help y'all. -- Lynda
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Doesn't look like a privet to me ... it looks more like mountain laural to me (I actually really like the branch structure but it doesn't work next to the walk. Have you considered transplanting them and letting them keep their nature look). I really like the tree behind them in the second picture... Do you know what it is? DK

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