Pruning and Trimming Bushes and Shrubs

How to Prune and Trim Bushes and Shrubs

Pruning is the process of removing dead and dying branches from a tree one by one. It involves knowing how to prune and trim bushes, gathering all the essential tools for trimming and pruning, tips on trimming and pruning bushes and shrubs.  The dead branches and roots must be removed from the tree. Branches can develop in the wrong direction in several instances. They are attempting to push their way towards electrical utility cables or structures. 

Your garden is not aging, it just needs regular nurturing. Call us and we will nurture it.

Pruning aids in the control of undesirable growth and helps to promote new growth by removing dead, dying, or damaged branches. Live, healthy plant tissue can also be pruned to reduce the size or shape of the plant’s structure. Pruning improves plant health and can extend plant life, ensuring that your landscape investment is protected. 

Here are some steps for pruning and trimming bushes and shrubs

Prune from Bushes

  • Lay Out a Tarp – Lay a tarp around the area you’ll be trimming to make cleanup a little easier. This saves you from having to rake all of your debris.  Laying down a tarp or two around your pruning subject before you begin is an excellent method to reduce clean-up time.
  • Remove Growth You Don’t Want – It’s now time to get rid of any unwanted growth. This is the time to shape the plant into the desired shape. Suckers that appear at the base of the trunk or on branches can be removed at this time. Your shrub, hedge, or tree is being sucked dry of nutrients by the “suckers.” 
  • Thin Out Spots on the Thick Outer Cover – The upper limbs must be cut to let the inner branches be exposed to the sunlight. The lower branches obtain enough light by eliminating the higher branches. Cut branches also promote the formation of new branches.
  • Assess the Shrub Size – Remove any dead limbs that are close to the root. If at all feasible, make the shrub’s top wider than the base so that sunlight may reach the entire plant.

What are the Essential Tools for Trimming and Pruning?

Trimming trees, shrubs, and hedges promote healthy development. Commercial clients frequently prune trees to make their property more appealing to potential customers. More visitors are usually associated with a better appearance.

Professionals usually concentrate on removing green shoots, which promotes overall healthy growth. Trimming the shrub helps its look as well as its development.

Shears, trimmers, and saws are used for trimming, resulting in more efficient outcomes and healthier development.

  • Hedge Shears

Hedge shears are tools for pruning hedges and bushes in the garden. Shears are available in both manual and powered versions. Manual hedge shears are multi-purpose instruments for cutting weeds, overgrown grass, bushes, shrubs, and shaping shrubs. 

  • Hedge Trimmer

Power hedge trimmers have a gas, electricity, or battery-powered motor that cuts in both directions with a long, toothed blade known as a cutting bar. Turn on the trimmer and move the cutting bar slowly and steadily over the shrub to trim bushes. 

  • Power Saw

There are different types of power saws available in the market; however, the kind that needs to be used depends on the size of your backyard or garden. There are chainsaws, rope saws (with cutting blades), and reciprocating saws that can trim the tree or bushes.

When it comes to pruning, shears, whether hand shears or lopping shears are frequently used for pruning. These shears are usually powerful enough to sever even the tiniest branches. A saw may be necessary for thick branches. The best tools for pruning are listed below:

  • Secateurs – For trimming and cutting back plants, bypass secateurs or hand pruners with a scissor-action are excellent all-around. They’re ideal for cutting delicate stems up to the thickness of a pencil. 
  • Pruning saw – Pruning saws come in various sizes and can cut through branches up to 5cm thick. Many have coarsely angled teeth that cut on both the push and pull strokes, whereas many only cut on the draw stroke.
  • Long-reach pruner – Pruners with a long reach are similar to secateurs on a long pole. The opposite end of a rope or lever is pulled to operate them. They’re suitable for regularly cutting woody branches up to 3cm thick on tall trees or large bushes.
  • Loppers – Loppers have long handles for good leverage and heavy-duty blades to cut woody stems up to 3cm thick. They’re ideal for trimming jobs that require a lot of effort. Some include extendable handles and a ratchet system to make cutting simpler.
  • Hedge Shears – Hedge shears are ideal if you have hedges, tiny shrubs, evergreens, or need to deadhead perennials. They can cut branches up to 14 inches thick and be used on any hedge shrub.

What are the Tips for Trimming and Pruning Bushes and Shrubs?

Plants that have been appropriately trimmed look better and live longer. Follow these tips for trimming and pruning bushes and shrubs properly.

  • Get Rid of Bad Branches – Remember the “4 Ds” when pruning shrubs, as some arborists refer to them. Begin by removing dead and damaged branches from bushes, as they detract from the appearance of the plant and encourage rot and disease. Also, as soon as you notice wilting, withered, or infected branches, take them out to prevent illness from spreading.
  • One-third of a Bush’s Canes Should be Pruned – Cane-type shrubs like forsythia and hydrangea send up new canes from their roots every year. Prune out the oldest (bigger) wood to keep the bush height under control. Trim out fresher canes while trimming bushes to thin the heart of the plant, allow light in, and restrict spread. 
  • Pruning Flattop Bushes Should be Avoided – It’s tempting to grab the hedge shears (a go-to for bush trimming tools) and shape a shrub by cutting off the branch tips when learning how to trim bushes. This “flattop haircut” method may look good for a year or two. 
  • Prune Entire Branches – Many shrubs become overgrown and dense if left unattended. While the foliage may appear fine this year, it may be too large to trim back without slaughtering it next year.
  • Remove a Branch from the Collar – When pruning shrubs, it’s critical to cut or see branches at the collar above where the branch joins the main trunk. The bark bulge that encircles the branch is known as the branch collar. The collar will quickly grow over the wound and hide it if left alone. Leave no studs behind. 
  • Replace Overgrown Shrubs – Pruning a large shrub to fit into a small space is not a good idea. It is possible, but it is quicker to remove an overgrown shrub and replace it with one that will mature to a more appropriate size for the space.

What to Prune from Bushes and Shrubs

Pruning should be done on any branches or stems that are dead, dying, infected, or damaged. It’s possible to do this at any time of year, but the sooner the better. To avoid wasting energy on damaged regions, clip branches or stems before the plant generates new growth in the spring. 

Not only will removing dead or dying branches help to prevent illness from spreading to other sections of the plant, but it will also allow the tree or shrub to concentrate on growing new, healthy growth.

When to Prune Bushes and Shrubs

The best time of year to prune a shrub is determined by the type of plant. One of the numerous reasons to identify the shrubs in your yard is for this reason. The removal of dead, weak, damaged, or crossing branches is a crucial pruning task that can be done at any time. Pruning is done in the fall or early winter, on the other hand, can harm a plant and reduce or even eliminate its foliage and flower output.

Late Winter/Early Spring

While the plants are still dormant, prune summer-flowering plants that will flower on the new growth of the next season. Their bare limbs make the plant’s structure visible, and the spring growth will swiftly cure wounds. Once fresh growth is seen, prune random-branching conifers.


  • Nandina (Nandina domestica)
  • Privet (Ligistrum species)
  • Repeat-flowering roses (Rosa species)
  • Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Summersweet (Clethra species)
  • Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa species)
  • Bumald spiraea (Spiraea bumalda)
  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
  • Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
  • Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica)


  • Cypress (Cupressus species)
  • Hemlock (Tsuga species)
  • Juniper (Juniperus species)
  • Southern yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus)
  • True cedar (Cedrus species)
  • Yew (Cephalotaxus and Taxus species)
  • Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia species)
  • Sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
  • Golden-rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana)
  • Random-branching conifers
  • Arborvitae (Thuja species)
  • Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

Late Spring/Early Summer

Spring-flowering plants should be pruned as soon as the blooms fade. Pruning immediately after bloom will enhance flower production the following year because they develop flowers only on old growth from the previous season. 


  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles species)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia species)
  • Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica)
  • Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica)
  • Mock orange (Philadelphus species)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron species)
  • Weigela (Weigela florida)
  • Azalea (Rhododendron species)
  • Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
  • Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Bridal wreath spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia)
  • Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
  • Deutzia (Deutzia species)


  • Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
  • Witch hazel (Hamamelis species)
  • Whorled-branching Conifers Fir (Abies species)
  • Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
  • Pine (Pinus species)
  • Spruce (Picea species)
  • Flowering almond (Prunus species)
  • Flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata)
  • Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
  • Ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana)
  • Redbud (Cercis species)
  • Saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)

Prune from Bushes and Shrubs

What is the 1/3 Rule for Pruning Shrubs?

Pruning old shrubs and small trees in a modest manner stimulates new, vibrant growth. Plants live in a state of equilibrium between above-ground and below-ground components. When a significant number of stems are lost, particularly at the top of the plant, the plant seeks to restore equilibrium by pushing forth new growth to maintain the top flora in balance. 

In moderation, this regrowth is a good thing: it’s how plants repair, and it’s how pruning can encourage dormant buds to sprout. However, if a plant loses too much of its leafy growth, it enters a state of shock or panic.

It may also try to rebuild through suckers or water sprouts at this stage, which can make the plant look ragged. Suckering has a tendency to go on for a long time once it starts.

Pruning too little, on the other hand, has minimal effect on stimulating new growth. While it may aid in minor plant shape, timid pruning does not encourage new stem growth in the same way that a good 1/3 pruning does.

Basic Pruning Technique

One assertive pruning session per growing season should be enough for an established shrub or small tree. Other times, pruning should be limited to removing dead or diseased branches or simply shaping pruning to keep hedges in proper shape.

Pruning most shrubs is best done in late winter or early spring. The plants are still in dormancy at this time, but they are just getting ready to sprout new growth. If your shrub blooms in the spring, make sure to leave enough flower buds on the stems for a spring display. Some homeowners are hesitant to prune a shrub or tree aggressively, but rest assured that an established shrub will quickly thank you for your efforts with lots of dense new growth. Begin by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased wood from a vigorous, established shrub. Remove any crossing branches that are rubbing the bark. 

Hiring a professional or tending to your plants yourself can protect your family and home from the various hazards of unmaintained trees and unwelcome guests in the form of insects and pests. Regular care will help you avoid any accidents or health issues, as well as save money because you will not have to spend a small fortune on repairing the damage caused by your trees. If you want professional care for the trees and plants in your landscape, contact Eden today!

Your garden is not aging, it just needs regular nurturing. Call us and we will nurture it.

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