How to Prune Shrubs, Evergreens & Bushes


Shrubs, evergreens and bushes in your landscaping provide natural beauty to the area and often increase the value of your property. Growing these plants requires regular maintenance, including watering, fertilizing and pruning. Knowing how to prune the specific types of plants you have is vital to ensure you do it properly. Trimming bushes at the correct time of the year is important as well, since not all of the shrubs call for pruning at the same time.

Step 1

Prune shrubs and bushes that bloom in the spring immediately following the bloom period. Trim bushes and shrubs that bloom in the summer or later in early spring before any new growth appears. Prune evergreens in early spring as well.

Step 2

Cut branches at the point of origin to thin out bushes and shrubs, which is known as thinning. Make these cuts at ground level, to lateral side branches or to the main stem of the plant.

Step 3

Trim branches back to another branch or to a bud, which is called heading back, to encourage growth in the region beneath the cut. Select a bud facing out from the shrub to stimulate growth in this direction, or an inside bud to manage bush growth.

Step 4

Rejuvenate a shrub or bush by pruning one-third of the older branches back to ground level or a few inches above.

Step 5

Prune evergreens sparingly and only as needed to maintain shape. Do not use shears to trim evergreens or any other plants, except hedges.

Step 6

Prune any weak, broke or diseased branches at any time on any of your landscaping plants. Remove branches touching or crossing the center to allow more light and air penetration.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Hand saw


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Aggie Horticulture: Proper Pruning Techniques
  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Shrubs
Keywords: trimming bushes, prune shrubs, trim bushes, prune evergreens

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.