What are these hedges anyway?
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I've recently 'inherited' from my aging in-laws a very long/narrow side yard (39' x 9') that is edged on two short sides and one of the long sides by hedges that have been poorly pruned. (The fourth side is the house.)

There are three varieties of hedges, all of which were present when the home was purchased in 1984. I suspect one was planted right after WWII when the home was built, and the others arrived over time. The latter two look alike, but are not the same, and don't look like the original hedge at all.

The original hedge is very aggressive, in that it throws up 6-9 inch lengths and then grows up to them. It bears resemblance to Rose of Sharon but isn't. The others grow more slowly and evenly.

They all have long limbs that leaf out very nicely on the sunny side of the hedge (the street side). On the shade side, they have sparse brachts at the top of their long limbs. This has been accentuated by using the electric pruners to give them a flattop. It's ugly.

Because they have been competing for soil and sun for so long, the younger varieties lean far out over the sidewalk, obstructing passersby. There was thick ivy growing along the hedge base that grew onto the sidewalk in search of sun, trapping dirt and providing a matrix for hedge roots. I was thinking this further encouraged hedge growth toward the sun and over the sidewalk.

I removed the ivy/root matter last year and was also thinking that I might try bracing the individual hedges back into position. (My mother did this successfully over several years with a small tree and a bungee cord.) However, I can't get much purchase on these skinny limbs and the hedges are just too strong.

If I prune off the portion over the sidewalk, which is the thick and leafy side, there will only be about a quarter of the individual hedges left. I could trim the remaining limbs down and see what happens.

I haven't any idea what the hedges are. I might kill them, which has serious expense, drainage and soil consequences.

The soil is loamy and almost certainly nutrient deficient given the neglect. Drainage is good, although somewhat damp down the middle. Cold and heat zones are 7a and 5.

Anyone have other ideas?

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