How to Prune Shrubs in Your Yard

One question we get all the time is about pruning. Watch the video above to learn the dos and don’ts of pruning shrubs.



Key Points:

  • Evergreens, such as holly, are best pruned in the winter.
  • Flowering shrubs, like azaleas, should be pruned shortly after they finish blooming.
  • To prevent dead growth in the center of a shrub, take off some of the limbs on the outside of the plant to allow sunlight in.
  • Hand hedge clippers damage leaves less than gas or electric powered hedge trimmers.


Julie Day:
Evergreens, like these hollies, are best pruned during the winter time when they’re dormant. That will be safer for the plant, less stressful, and you’ll get a better result from that.

Danny: OK, alright. And now this is an azalea.

Julie: These azaleas have just finished blooming, and right after a plant blooms is another good time to prune it; so that it will be sure to bloom next year and have plenty of time to recover from the pruning.

A well manicured lawn with bright green grass and well trimmed bushes.
Properly trimmed shrubs instantly enhance a backyard landscape. | Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

Danny: Well, I’ve seen people that have really gotten aggressive in trimming things back. And you end up with a lot of like, dead stuff, like you see in here that actually is showing. What are they doing wrong, just cutting too much?

Julie: Well, when you trim things into a wall shape or into a rounded shape, and you do it over and over again; eventually, it blocks light from the inside and you end up with dead branches. A good way to fix that, is every couple years to go in, and take out some of these branches. Open up some chunks here to let light come in, and it will start to turn green back in the middle.

Danny: OK. And what about something like this? This is, of course, lower to the ground; obviously had a shape. Do you just simply come back in and just kind of reshape it in a round fashion like this?

Julie: Well, for a small one like this, you mostly want to just keep it in shape. You may want to come in – either after it blooms, or over the winter – and take out some larger branches, and let some light get into the middle.

Danny Lipford trims trees and bushes while wearing safety glasses
Gas-powered hedge trimmers make landscaping jobs more efficient — but they also can result in tears.

Danny: OK. Do you use the old school way here, or do you like electric, gasoline powered hedge trimmers?

Julie: I like the old school way because I like to know what I’m trimming. The electric ones can sometimes tear the leaves. It doesn’t give as nice an edge, but they can be helpful if you have a big job to do.

Watch the previous or next video in our series of tips for your yard.

Further Information