Virginia Beach shrubs require extensive pruning after harsh winter

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-07 18:37:03-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Oleanders, large evergreen shrubs, that serve as a buffer between homes and traffic at the North End of the beach, were severely damaged from the harsh winter.

The shrubs line Atlantic Ave. for about three miles from 43rd to 89th Streets.

At first glance, it looks like there's no saving them, but Shawn Hopson, with the city's Landscape Management Division, says looks are deceiving.

"The general public, when they come down here, they say 'Oh my gosh; it's completely dead.'  What they don't realize is, the plant actually grows from the bottom, the roots up, so if you were to take the end of the bark and scrape it off you would see it would be dead, it would be brown.  Once you get about two feet off the ground and you scrape, you would find it's green, it's thriving," said Hopson.

To revitalize the plans, city crews will be cutting all of them to about 2-3 feet tall.

They're not sure if they'll all grow back but believe the majority will.

Hopson says it will take a few years for them to reach their full size again.  Most of the Oleanders at the beach are between 6-12 feet tall now; after they're cut, they'll probably grow to about four feet this year.

Work to prune the shrubs will start Monday and is expected to take about a week, with everything cleaned up by the end of the month.

If you have any questions about the work that's being done, you can contact Shawn Hopson at (757) 385-8424 or