Properly pruning shrubs will maintain the plant and create a beautiful landscape. Cutting back old growth helps the shrub flower and develop, and extends its life. Cut the shrub in a natural form. Over-pruning adversely affects the shrub's growth and future development. Prune shrubs in late winter or early spring to encourage good branch structure.
Prune shrubs in the late winter to early spring before new growth begins. During this time, it's easier to prune without leaves and buds obstructing the plant-branch arrangement.
Using pruning shears, thin out the tallest and oldest stems first. This will lead to hearty branch development. Pruning shears can cut up to 3/4 inches in diameter and are ideal for shrubs.
Hardy shrubs such as hydrangeas should be cut back to the first pair of buds. Cut the branch at its point of origin from the main stem, resulting in a more open plant without promoting excessive new growth, which can make the plant top heavy.
Prune deciduous shrubs by thinning branches of any broken or crossed roots. Cut back dead branches that have been infected by disease and insects.