How to Clip Ornamental Shrubs


Ornamental shrubs enhance your surroundings, increase property value and come in a variety of colors, textures and shapes to fit with all types of landscape designs. Ornamental shrubs create borders or barriers, make amazing focal points, and many produce beautiful blossoms or fruits every season. Growing ornamental shrubs requires basic maintenance, such as pruning or clipping. Using the proper tool for trimming ornamental shrubs is vital, and knowing when to clip ornamentals depends on the type grown.

Step 1

Plan your ornamental shrub pruning according to the bloom time of the shrub. Prune both deciduous shrubs that produce flowers in summer or fall and evergreen shrub varieties in early spring. Clip ornamental shrubs that produce spring blossoms immediately after bloom.

Step 2

Clip off all old, diseased and frail branches. Remove any branches crossing over the center or rubbing against other branches.

Step 3

Trim off any branches to maintain size or shape, but allow the shrub to form naturally. Stand back often while you are clipping to get an overall view of the ornamental shrub's appearance.

Step 4

Cut away several of the ornamental shrub's branches back to a lateral branch or the main trunk to thin the canopy. This is known as "thinning," which increases sunlight and air penetration in the center of the shrub.

Step 5

Clip the branches back using a "heading cut" to encourage growth at a specific point on the ornamental shrub. Trim the branches back to an active bud or lateral branch.

Step 6

Use your fingers to pinch off tips of shoots on the ornamental shrub or to remove flowers and suckers, as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw


  • University of Missouri: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
  • Purdue University: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
  • Iowa State University: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Oklahoma State University: Pruning Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Vines
  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Trees & Shrubs
Keywords: trimming ornamental shrubs, ornamental shrub pruning, growing ornamental shrubs

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.