How to Prune Old Shrubs


Pruning is an integral part of having a decorative shrub in the landscape. When a shrub is young and growing, proper pruning trains it to grow in a certain direction and height, as well as promoting the growth of new branches and disease prevention. In older, established shrubs, pruning serves a decorative function, improving the aesthetics of the shrub as well as reducing excessive foliage which may reduce flower growth.

Step 1

Remove dead or broken branches from the tree using pruning shears or loppers to cut the branch from the tree. Do not pull the branch off because this may rip bark or break more branches.

Step 2

Inspect the shrubs' natural form, suggests Purdue University Cooperative Extension, and cut back excessive growth to the natural shape. Avoid "haircut" pruning, where the shrub is cut in a straight line across the entire body to make it even, because this ruins the natural shape.

Step 3

Cut branches that are over grown. Make the cut 1/4 inch above an active bud because this promotes growth in the active bud.

Step 4

Pinch off the ends of new, green growths using your finger to train the shrub to only grow so far. New shoots require one-third to one-half of their length removed to encourage side shoot growth.

Step 5

Remove old stems from the bottom of the shrub, recommends Lynn Ocone of "This Old House." Reduce the number of stems so that only new, flower-producing stems are left.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopper
  • Hand saw
  • Ladder
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses


  • This Old House: How to Prune Trees and Shrubs
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
  • Texas A & M Systems: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
Keywords: prune old shrubs, pruning established shrubs, shrub pruning

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.