How to Prune a Bush


Encourage your bushes to grow and prosper with an overall maintenance plan of pruning and cutting back branches. Always prune in the beginning years of the bush's life to prevent future problems down the road and to help give the bush a strong base. Remove any insect-infected or diseased branches to help the bush grow and flower. Keep the bush growing strong by trimming to its natural shape. Don't over prune your bush, which can permanently damage the plant and its ability to develop. By correctly pruning and trimming back your bushes, you will ensure a healthy and hardy bush.

Step 1

Prune bushes in the late winter to early spring before new spring growth emerges. During the dormant season, it's easier to prune without buds or leaves obscuring the bush structure.

Step 2

Use pruning shears to cut back old branches throughout the crown of the bush. This process will promote a strong branch development and better form to the bush. Pruning shears are essential when cutting back bushes and can make cuts up to ¾ inches in diameter.

Step 3

Prune back overgrown bushes to the first pair of buds facing the outside of the bush. Trim the branch at the point of origin from the main stem or "parent" stem. This will produce a more open bush without stimulating new plant growth, which results in a dense and top heavy bush.

Step 4

Remove all weak, broken and crossed branches, which can affect the development of the bush. Prune all dead and diseased stems or branches on the bush by removing the entire branch.

Step 5

Prune young bushes to their natural form but don't cut back the central stem leader. As the bush develops, start by removing low branches and ones located close to the bottom of the bush trunk.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear garden gloves to protect your hands from scrapes and scratches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Texas A&M University Extension
  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • North Carolina State University
Keywords: cutting bushes, pruning bushes, caring for bushes

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.