How to Prune Juniper Bushes


Pruning juniper bushes when planting increases the plant's chances of successfully transplanting by balancing the roots and top growth. As the plant ages, pruning controls the shape and size of the plant and removes diseased, damaged or dead wood. Pruning should begin early, before the plant growth is out of control. Light pruning of juniper bushes can be done anytime; severe pruning should be done in March or April.

Step 1

Plan an approach for pruning your juniper when planting it. Decide how large the shrub will be allowed to grow and what shape is desirable. Making these decisions early helps ensure that the shrub or hedge will turn out as expected.

Step 2

Remove dead, damaged and diseased limbs by cutting them back to their point of origin or to a strong lateral branch. Use clean, sharp pruners to make clean cuts. Avoid damaging the bark and cut the branch flush to avoid leaving stubs.

Step 3

Train juniper bushes to the desired shape. Trim two to four times a year to keep the shape attractive. Avoid pruning into the dead zone in the middle of the plant. The branches must retain some green foliage in order to develop new growth.

Step 4

Develop hedges slowly, allowing the shrubs to reach their desired height over the course of three to four years. Hedges that grow tall too quickly will be thin and open at the base. Trim the base wider at the base than the top to keep the hedge well filled at the base.

Step 5

Prune long branches back to their origin at a lateral branch in the early spring. This will help to keep the plant compact. Eliminate weak or narrow crotches.

Step 6

Remove water sprouts that do not benefit the design. Leave those that fill in holes.

Step 7

Stand back and evaluate the shrub. Determine what corrections are needed. Trim as needed to achieve the desired shape.

Step 8

Remove the trimmings from the area. Burn branches that are diseased or infested with pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp, clean pruning shears


  • University of Missouri Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Proper Pruning Techniques
  • University of Florida Extension: Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: prune juniper bushes, prune shrubs, train juniper bushes

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.