Help with Untamed Evergreen?

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Q: I bought this place with a large, albeit barren backyard in May. I'm slowly getting around to beautifying, but there is this beastly evergreen back there that has me baffled. It's very green on the outstretched limbs, but it becomes very brown and branchy as you cut it back. Any ideas on how to tame this wild beast? Thanks in advance for all of the suggestions!

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and son in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.

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