We have a great bounty of azalea, rhododendron, boxwood, rose-of-sharon, yew, English laurel, and holly bushes in the yard. Most of them are in sorry shape after years of neglect. All of them are in desperate need of pruning because they're much bigger than they should be, but unfortunately in most cases the green healthy layer is only a couple of inches thick, and the whole interior of the shrub is a mess of twigs.
Pruning them to the size they need to be will probably kill them unless we do it over the course of several years, and even then it's a long shot.
So we've decided to take most of them out. They're taking over the deck and patio and they look scraggly, so we're going to pull them out and start from scratch with smaller shrubs or other plants that we can keep under control.
This is before:
And here's that back corner after a couple of hours of work:
It's hard to see the difference, but there are three trash cans full of twigs and ivy sitting at the curb now, with those two piles of twigs and ivy you see in the photo left over to be tossed next week because we ran out of trash cans. It's going to take forever to clear out this yard, and it's going to leave things looking a little naked for a while but I think it makes the most sense to do it this way and start over with a blank canvas, choosing new plants and shrubs that don't need much care, while making sure to give them that little bit of care so they don't get out of control.