How to Trim Ornamental Shrubs


Ornamental shrubs add a natural look to the surroundings. They come in numerous varieties, allowing you to grow them in many areas of your yard. According to the Oklahoma State University, "Proper pruning enhances the beauty of almost any landscape tree and shrub." Pruning or trimming ornamental shrubs is performed regularly for many reasons: to control their size and shape and to enhance blossoms, fruits and their overall health. Timing is very important when trimming ornamental shrubs.

Step 1

Use the correct pruning tool for trimming ornamental shrubs. Choose your tools based on the diameter of the branch. Use pruning shears to trim branches up to 1/4 inch in diameter, lopper shears for branches from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter and a pruning saw to trim any branches over 1/2 inch.

Step 2

Plan to trim spring-flowering ornamental shrubs following the bloom period. Trim all summer-flowering and non-flowering ornamental shrubs in the beginning of spring.

Step 3

Trim any broke, frail or diseased branches. Cut ornamental shrub branches that touch, rub or cross over the center. Remove all suckers growing on the branches or around the stem area.

Step 4

Stand back often while you trim the ornamental shrubs to get a good view of the trimming. Try to maintain a natural overall appearance, and only trim as needed to shape.

Step 5

Thin out the ornamental shrubs by trimming branches back to ground level, to a lateral branch or to the main stem. Thinning decreases the size of the ornamental shrubs and enhances the airflow and sunlight inside the canopy.

Step 6

Trim ornamental shrubs using a heading cut to encourage new growth and fill up empty spaces. Prune the branch back to a shoot or bud, which will force the shrub to produce many new shoots in this location.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning saw


  • Oklahoma State University: Pruning Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Vines
  • Iowa State University: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • University of Missouri: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: trimming ornamental shrubs, pruning ornamental shrubs, cut ornamental shrub

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.