How to Prune Shaping Evergreens


Evergreens used in the garden landscape provide year-round green, keeping their color and leaves. The evergreen is split into two main categories: narrow leaf, or needled evergreens, including pines, junipers and yews; and broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons, hollies and box. Broadleaf evergreens are more often used as shaped evergreens or shrubs in the home garden. Regular pruning trains the evergreen and improves its shape and appearance. Pruning also reduces the dangers of disease because of broken or infected branches.

Step 1

Put on safety goggles and work gloves before working on your evergreen. Sharp branches or needles may hurt the hands and eyes.

Step 2

Remove dead, diseased and broken wood at any time of the year to prevent disease from spreading. Clean the pruning shears after each cut using an alcohol swab or a clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Step 3

Stand back from the tree or shrub and inspect the general shape of the tree. Decide on the shape you want before making any cuts.

Step 4

Cut narrow leaf evergreens just above the needle whorls for the species that have them. Some narrow leaf evergreens also have non-whorled growth.

Step 5

Make cuts on non-whorled narrow leaf trees and broadleaf evergreens anywhere along the branch, trying hard not to cut into the older wood. Cut back to a side shoot when pruning to ensure new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean cloth


  • University of Delaware: Pruning Evergreens
  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • University of New Hampshire: Pruning Evergreens in the Landscape
Keywords: pruning evergreen, shaping evergreen, evergreen care

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.