Atlantic ninebark, or physocarpus opulifolius, also goes by the name common ninebark. It is a fast-growing shrub that can achieve a height between 3 and 10 feet tall. The large, deciduous shrub is mound-shaped. It has flowers and fruit pods and turns yellow in the autumn. Pruning Atlantic ninebark when they are young helps produce a strong structure. As they mature, pruning maintains the shrub's structure, form, health and appearance. Shrubs should be cut back once a year during the dormant season--in the fall or winter--for best results.
Decide what shape to prune the Atlantic ninebark. Its natural form is a mound. which means many lateral branches may compete for dominance. If you want to cut it into an ornamental shape, continual maintenance will be necessary.
Put on your goggles and gloves. Safety is important when pruning.
Use a hand pruner to cut small, thin branches. Lopping shears or small pruning saws can be used for slightly larger branches with bigger cutting surfaces and greater leverage. If you're dealing with even larger branches, about 6 inches in thickness, use a pruning saw.
Identify the node, which is where one twig or branch meets another. Each spring, growth will start with buds, and twigs grow until there is a new node.
Cut at the nodes to thin the main body of the shrub and allow more light and air to get past the leaves.
Remove the branches with narrow, V-shaped connections because they are weaker and are likely already cracked. Keep all branches that are attached with strong U-shaped joints.