How to Trim Shrubs

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Everyone wants an attractive yard but maintaining your trees bushes and shrubs can be a bit scary. Particularly with flowering shrubs, when you choose to prune can be the difference between a season where your shrub blooms prolifically, or not at all. Without proper pruning your foliage shrubs can quickly look shabby and detract from the looks of your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bypass pruners
  • Hedge shears
  • Determine the shape you wish to make your shrub. Keep in mind the eventual size you wish it to be if it is a young plant.

  • Cut away any branches or twigs that protrude from the outline of your planned shape with your pruning shears or bypass pruners, depending on the diameter of the branches. Keep in mind that the new growth will be above this line, so depending on how you want the final product to look will determine how low you wish to make your cuts. Some hedges grow newer growth a different color than the older foliage which can be quite attractive.

  • Trim foliage from the bottom if you wish to expose the branches at the bottom for a more treelike form. Take back twigs to the main branch with clippers. Be careful not to remove any branches or you could change the shape of your shrub's outline, remove only leaves.

  • Remove a third of the largest, oldest branches of flowering shrubs down to their bases with loppers or pruners. Shrubs that flower in the spring should be pruned the summer before, usually before July, as they bloom on buds that set in the late summer or fall. Shrubs that bloom in the summer, should be pruned in late winter or early spring, as they flower on new growth.

  • Prune damaged or diseased branches any time of year, as soon as they are noticed.

  • Avoid pruning deciduous shrubs too late in the fall as late warm weather can encourage new growth that is too delicate to survive cold winter weather.

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