The Proper Pruning of Shrubs


To prevent the overgrowth and spread of disease in a shrub, regular pruning is required. Pruning is also necessary to encourage flower and fruit development. Early in a shrub's life, pruning trains the plant to grow only to a certain height, and encourages horizontal growth. To maintain the beauty and shape of your shrub and ensure the plant's longevity, it is essential to prune properly, making the cuts at the right angle and in the correct places.

Step 1

Prune suckers from the bottom of young shrubs, cutting the sprout at the point of growth recommends the University of Minnesota Extension. Suckers draw nutrients from the larger plant, and usually grow at the shrub grafting point, or from the soil.

Step 2

Remove branches that are dead or diseased, cutting 1/4 inch above a healthy node (where a leaf is growing) at a 45 degree angle advises Clemson University Extension. Make sure the pruning shears are sharp to prevent crushing the branch instead of cutting.

Step 3

Prune away branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other, according University of Minnesota Extension

Step 4

Thin out shrubs in the spring by cutting branches or twigs away from the shrub at its point of origin, either at the parent stem or at ground level. This reduces the growth of side branches growing and increases air circulation throughout the plant, according to Texas A & M University Extension.

Step 5

Remove the oldest and tallest of shrub branches at the ground level to rejuvenate a shrub and to maintain the shape of the plant advises Texas A&M. Cut back to within 6 to 12 inches of the soil level, according to Clemson Extension.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Step ladder
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles


  • Clemson University Extension: Pruning Shrubs
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Texas A & M: Proper Pruning Techniques
Keywords: pruning shrubs, shrub care, trimming shrubs

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.