How to Prune Shrubs in Spring


Prune shrubs in the spring to help promote the growth and overall health of the plant. Begin pruning the shrub at the onset of its life to prevent future problems and promote hardy growth. Always remove diseased branches by cutting off the entire branch. Dispose of these branches by burying or burning them to prevent possible infection of shrubs and surrounding plants. Shrubs prefer their natural shape and will grow best when pruning encourages this essential process. By keeping your shrub properly trimmed, you will extend its life and ensure a strong plant.

Step 1

Prune the shrub in the spring, before new growth begins and while the plant is emerging from its dormant stage. This will encourage new growth.

Step 2

Cut back the old and gnarled stems and branches to promote strong-side branch development. Use pruning shears that can make sharp cuts up to ¾ inches in diameter.

Step 3

Prune back thick and hardy shrubs to the first pair of buds, cutting the stem at the point of origin from the central part of the stem. This method will open up the plant without stimulating new growth, which can create a thick and top-heavy shrub.

Step 4

Remove broken and crossed branches, which can affect the development of the shrub. Small stems less than the size of a pencil should be removed. Cut off all dead and diseased-infected branches, and discard to them prevent infecting the shrub.

Step 5

Prune to shape young shrubs, but don't cut back the central stem or leader. As the young shrub grows, begin pruning the low branches and ones around the trunk.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never prune near electrical wires and contact your local utility company for assistance.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • The University of Arizona
  • University of Minnesota Extension
Keywords: pruning shrubs, spring pruning, cutting shrubs

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.