How to Prune Evergreen Shrubs


Evergreen shrubs keep most of their needles through the entire year. The plants are used in many gardens and landscapes as a screen, foundation, focal point or hedge. Pruning evergreen shrubs ensures that they are healthy, attractive and productive plants. A light going-over should occur once a year. Clipping off diseased, dead and injured branches will open the bush up to sunlight and air, both of which nourish the shrub.

Step 1

Pull the branches apart and look for injured or diseased branches and twigs inside. They can be identified by discolorations or marks in the bark.

Step 2

Make a small cut into a branch with hand pruners to determine if it is dead. If it's brown or black in color, that indicates it's no longer living. If there is green under the bark, keep it.

Step 3

Reduce the bulk and size of evergreen shrubs by choosing a few branches and stems to remove with hand pruners. You can do this limited pruning in March or April.

Step 4

Make the majority of cuts between mid-June to mid-July. This is when the branches are no longer getting longer, so you can see exactly how much you should remove. In addition next year's buds have not set yet during this time of year.

Step 5

Cut the branches as deep into the shrub as possible. The remaining branches will hide the cuts. They will become even less noticeable after new branches grow in the summer.

Step 6

Find large branches in the center of the overgrown shrub. Remove one or two of them with hand pruners to significantly reduce the size of the bush.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't hack away at an evergreen shrub because the dead, brown branches will never produce new shoots. Avoid pruning evergreen shrubs in the autumn because they'll be more likely to get injured by the winter weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Gloves


  • Terry L. Ettinger Horticulture Consulting Services
  • Iowa State University
Keywords: prune evergreen shrubs, prune evergreen bushes, trim bushes

About this Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.