How to Trim Cedar Shrubs


The plants grown in the United States as cedar shrubs and trees are not true cedars but are actually related to the juniper family. True cedars grow primarily in the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions of the world. North American cedars have fine needles, a fragrant wood used in cabinet making and produce small, blue berries. Junipers that do not achieve a large form are typically grown as shrubs in the landscaping. Cedar shrubs must be pruned to keep them the proper size for your yard.

Step 1

Time cedar pruning for early spring before growth starts on your shrub.

Step 2

Examine your cedar shrub to determine where new growth begins. New growth is visually greener than old and is usually on the outermost 6 to 12 inches of each branch.

Step 3

Cut branches back to a point where a younger branch sprouts from the branch you are cutting. This is known as heading back.

Step 4

Remove dead, diseased or damaged wood by cutting a branch back to the nearest healthy branch or trunk.

Step 5

Remove limbs that grow toward the tree's trunk or cross the canopy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not remove all of the cedar tree's young growth. Cedars lose their needles from old growth. If you remove all young growth from a cedar tree limb, the shrub's limbs will die. Never remove more than 1/4 of the shrub's total height from the topmost branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bleach


  • University of Saskatchewan: Prune Your Cedars Cautiously
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Pruning Shrubs
  • Mississippi State University Extension: Pruning Landscape Plants

Who Can Help

  • University of Maine: Pruning Woody Landscape Plants
Keywords: trimming plants, cedar shrubs, landscaping plant care, pruning cedar shrubs, pruning juniper

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."