On younger shrubs, prune branches back to nonflowering shoots or back to healthy buds pointing in the direction you want the shrub to grow -- typically away from the center. Cut them off at a 45 degree angle. After you see the first hints of new growth emerging from your previous cuts, prune again to further reduce the height of evergreen shrubbery. If you have made a good, angled cut at the proper time, each species will safely heal its wounds without damage from frost, insects or disease. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 181,061 times. Always cut branches on a slant, at a 45-degree angle. If I trim my shrubs will they require more water? This is called renewal or renovation pruning. Rainwater slides off a slanted cut. Begin by pruning away dead or damaged branches with a pruning shear, lopper, or a saw. Cut the main branch off just above the smaller one. Routinely trimming your shrubs can help them look well-maintained and prevent them from damaging your home's siding. Eyeball the bush and locate the tallest main branch. It depends on how much you need to remove. "Helped me realize that I need to hire a gardener, thanks.". The proper time to prune needled evergreens such as pines is the winter dormant period. This is fine, as long as you do not overdo it. The bumpy area is rich with plant growth cells. Here are the steps to correctly pruning shrubs and trees around your yard: 1. Plants can be renovated in late winter or early spring or (for early flowering plants) after flowering. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. I have old shrubs in my RV park. Cut the main branch off just above the smaller one. Needle evergreens are tricky: If you prune below green growth, a branch may never again sprout. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Pruning your shrubs is a super easy job. Support wikiHow by Your tools should be sharp enough to leave a straight, clean cut. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. You'll need a small powered chainsaw, a wood saw, or metal hacksaw for thicker branches and trunks. For a major overhaul—removing 10 feet or more from a bush—use a saw on the main trunks, removing only a third of the height at each pass to prevent accidents. If I trim them way back and remove all dead stuff at base will they die? Your neighbors won't see the plant's backside, so feel free to cut back for up to 12 inches of clearance. Those that don’t get the regular maintenance pruning they need become leggy and overgrown. Pruning different types of plants requires different methods. But you have to take it easier with many other types, including "juniper, spruce, pine, and fir," which "usually do not form buds on old wood.". Flowering shrubs are trickier because trimming them at the incorrect time can mean a loss of next year's flowers. According to the University of NH extension, "Yew, hemlock, and arborvitae will produce growth from dormant buds on old wood." Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania. Prune slightly lower down than you feel really comfortable with; remember, new growth will add additional height over the next six months. Light trimming to keep it from looking overgrown is fine, but too much may damage your plant. Elms can only be pruned in winter to help prevent transmission of Dutch elm disease. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. It depends on what kind of shrub you have and how much you want to cut.