How to Control Shrubs


Shrub control involves the measured removal of old woody areas of the plant to maintain shape. Learning how to control shrubs requires a basic lesson in the primary method to control shrub growth. Pruning allows the gardener to control shrub size, remove dead wood and thin the plant to encourage health branch growth. The selection of an appropriate planting site limits control efforts to thin and remove dead branches.

Step 1

Schedule pruning for early spring for summer blooming shrubs or immediately after blooms die on spring blooming shrubs. Pruning during this time allows the plant to rejuvenate during the warm summer growing months.

Step 2

Determine how much to prune based on the growth and your needs in the landscape. Neglected shrubs can outgrow their allotted garden space. Plants placed too closely together create a nightmare problem of crowding in a confined garden. This determination helps the gardener decide how much pruning is required to control the shrub.

Step 3

Remove dead, diseased or dying foliage from the shrub first. Use sharp pruning tools to make 90-degree cuts as close as possible to a connecting branch or directly above an outward-facing group of two new buds. Don't leave stumps of any length extending off a branch or main trunk of the shrub to discourage pests and disease.

Step 4

Select evenly spaced branches to remove from the shrub to execute a type of pruning called thinning. Thinning removes older wood from the shrub and opens up the interior to allow more light. Openness creates thicker growth throughout the plant. Avoid clipping off the ends of long branches since pruning stimulates growth at the point of the cut.

Step 5

Work your way around the entire shrub when thinning to evenly remove foliage from the plant. Perform thinning once a year to control shrub shape and size.

Step 6

Control a rampantly growing shrub by performing a heavy pruning referred to as rejuvenation pruning. Rejuvenation pruning removes all foliage from the plant and leaves a stump of the center trunk of the shrub. This form of pruning is reserved for extreme cases of overgrowth and for those plants experiencing thin foliage growth and limited flowering.

Step 7

Make clean cuts with a pruning saw at a 90-degree angle located 8 inches above the soil surface. Remove all foliage to garden waste bags or the compost pile. New growth slowly appears over the summer. The use of rejuvenation pruning requires at least 3 to 5 years to produce a full shrub.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning loppers
  • Pruning saw
  • Yard waste bags


  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Shrubs
  • University of Missouri: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
Keywords: control shrubs, shrub control, pruning shrubs

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.