How to Prune Overgrown Shrubs


Pruning your shrubs is an essential gardening practice that will benefit the entire plant. Do not wait until the shrub has outgrown or overgrown the space before you prune. Set aside a time for the shrub's check-up, which will entail pruning back old branches and cutting off dead and diseased stems. Many shrubs will grow healthier and hardier when given sufficient space to grow. Always practice regular maintenance of the plant to help maintain the overall health and longevity of the shrub.

Step 1

Cut back shrubs in the late winter to early spring to promote healthy and hardy growth. During the winter months when the buds and leaves have yet to emerge, it's easier to see where to prune.

Step 2

Use pruning shears to thin out all of the tallest stems and branches. This will help to promote vigorous branch development. Ideal pruning shears for overgrown shrubs should have the capability to cut up to ¾ inches in diameter.

Step 3

Prune back thick stems and trunks by removing 1/3 of the oldest growth. This will help to encourage growth on new stems shooting up from the roots. Cut the branch back from the central stem or point of origin. This will create a more open plant without unnecessary new growth, which causes overgrown shrubs to become top heavy.

Step 4

Remove any broken or twisted branches by removing the entire branch. Cut back any diseased or insect infested branches and remove them from the garden to reduce the possibility of infecting the shrub.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check for electrical lines and wires before pruning. If lines or wires are within close proximity to the shrub, contact your local electric company to assist you in safely pruning shrubs.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • North Carolina State University
Keywords: pruning shrubs, overgrown shrubs, caring for 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.