Pruning is a major component of proper shrub care. Shrubs require pruning for proper growth; the removal of dead, damaged or diseased branches; proper flower growth; and maintaining the appearance of the shrub. Pruning is a process that should begin when you plant the shrub and continue every year. Pruning is possible at any time of the year, but some varieties require different pruning times for best growth. Check your plant variety for pruning-period specifics.
Remove dead, broken or diseased branches by cutting them back to a healthy, new-shoot growth. You should cut the branch off at a 45 degree angle, according to the University of Minnesota Extension program. When cutting a diseased branch, wipe the blade at each cut with rubbing alcohol to prevent spreading of disease.
Thin the shrub by cutting branches out of the shrub at their point of origin or at the soil to open up the shrub to more light and better air circulation, recommends Texas A&M University.
Remove branches that cross one another as well as branches that are growing inward as opposed to outward, the Clemson University Extension service recommends. Remove any lateral branches that are less than 4 feet from the ground at this time.
Trim the shrub at the height you wish it to stay by cutting a young shrub to within 12 inches of ground level in the second year, then allowing the bush to grow to its desired height. According to Clemson University, decorative pruning will keep the shrub at this height.