The Shape of Things to Come --- pruning advice needed
Every shrub in my new yard was trimmed over the last 5 years with nothing but a hedge trimmer. The first thing the nurseyman said when delivering some plants was that this was the Staten Island method of landscaping. I was stunned that he might have guessed I moved here from SI, but he explained that builders there supplied landscape material by shape --- round, cone, square and long rectangle (for hedges) and every plant had to be perfectly shaped, none free-form and homeowners maintained those shapes in perpetuity.
Before I make mistakes in the opposite direction and let everything grow 'wild', I thought I'd share some photos and get your opinions. The most prevalent shrub in these photos is boxwood. Is it healthy to keep them well hedge-trimmed, or is it better to seriously thin them out and only occasionally hand trim them to shape?
This first photo shows the front as you drive in. In the immediate foreground are white azaleas that I had to cut down about 2 feet to show the rounded tops of the boxwood behind them. Further to the left is a carefully trimmed evergreen bush, a manicured little row of boxwoods and a tall and perfectly boxed shaped holly against the wall of the house. MY OPINION: Only use 'renewal' pruning to keep the azaleas at a reasonable height and shape, but hedge trim and prune all the rest to maintain their shapes.
The other side of the front of the house features a boxwood hedge with a sloping front, and then onto laurels, azaleas and evergreen bushes. MY OPINION: let the laurels and azaleas grow free-form, but keep the boxwoods and evergreen bushes hedge-trimmed.
The next set are of the backyard with the ever-present wire frame reindeer ('she' who must be obeyed). The little boxwood are perfect oval shapes, but I think the hollies and larger boxes behind should grow free(r).
More Hollies and Boxwoods, but I'm concerned that the Abelia on the right of this photo has gotten too large.
And lastly, the Holly screen for the Driveway. You wouldn't believe the condition and shape of these hollies before I thinned them and let them grow out a bit. They were perfectly square, and the foliage was so small and dense I could barely get a (gloved) finger in there. MY OPINION: Prune them once annually after Christmas and try to get them into a somewhat pyramid shape (wider at the bottom, with maybe 3 feet of flat top).