The other day I took a walk around my neighborhood and spotted these nandinas right around the corner:
Do yours look like these? And if so, why for Heaven's sake does your nandina look like these?? I am here to tell you, you don't want nandina topiaries. Years ago I read an article in Southern Living magazine by Steve Bender (aka The Grumpy Gardener ) about how to prune your nandinas. It's simple, and you can commit it to memory like I did:
Cut 1/3 of the stems all the way down to the ground. Now, be sensible — spread these out a bit!
Cut another 1/3 of the stems about halfway down. Again, spread them out.
Leave the final 1/3 alone.
Now stand back and look at your handiwork. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? I once had a client who said, "I don't think you trimmed those nandinas at all!" That's because you don't want these plants to look pruned, you want them to look thinned out and balanced. Using the 1/3 method ensures that you will thin out the thicket without creating the foliage-on-top-of-sticks, as in the pic above.
Now, grab those pruners and go and and thin those nandinas! And for Heaven's sake, don't tell my neighbor that I took a pic of their pruning job.