Trees and shrubs can be beautiful accents to a well landscaped property. That being said, both trees and shrubs grown, and grow… and grow. Maintaining a well-landscaped property requires maintaining your trees and shrubs.


The most effective way to maintain the appearance and health of your trees and shrubs is to prune them. Although it seems like a simple task, pruning needs to be executed correctly, and there are a variety of pruning practices that need to be applied in a variety of different situations.


Do I Need to Prune?

As stated above, pruning is an important aspect of shrub and tree maintenance. There are times that you may want to prune for aesthetic reasons, and other times where you will need to prune for safety reasons, or for the health of your plant. For instance, aesthetically, pruning can be used to alter your tree or shrub to a desired shape. In terms of safety, there may be a widow-maker or low-hanging branch that poses a risk to your home, your person, or your vehicle. Plant health wise, proper pruning can regenerate plant growth, making a happy and gorgeous plant feature within your landscaping.


Types of Pruning


Pruning by pinching is, well, just like it sounds.To prune a bush, plant or tree via pinching, simply pinch off the terminal bud with your index finger and thumb. A terminal bud is a bud on the end of a branch that encourages extended branch growth. Pinching off a terminal bud allows for other buds on a branch to receive more energy to grow, curating an even or bushy shape— depending on the plant.


If you desire a dense tree or shrub, or if you need to control the size of your shrub or tree, heading is the perfect technique to utilize. Heading is done by cutting a branch at 45 degrees with hand-held shears in order to trim it close to the lateral branch it has grown off. Heading redirects growth, and provides the opportunity for new, fresh buds to begin growing.


Although the method is straightforward, it’s always important to make your pruning cuts at 45 degree angles, as a steeper or shallower cut with result in decreased water intake by the branch, which ultimately negatively impacts the health of the pruned branch.


If you’re seeking to thin out a densely grown shrub or tree, the thinning method does just that. Where when heading we cut close to a lateral branch to promote growth, in thinning we cut a branch where it meets the lateral branch, which then inhibits new growth.


When pruning via thinning, you may need to use loppers or a pruning saw depending on the branch’s thickness. That being said, hand-held shears can be a viable option for thinning smaller growth/branches.



Shearing is the most effective method to use when you need to shape a small-leaved shrub, hedge, or bush. To shear you plant, use electric shears or hand held shears to cut your plant to the desired shape. Shearing needs to be regularly repeated in order to achieve and maintain the desired shape of your plant.


It’s important to note that if you’re consistently shearing a plant to a desired shape, periodically prune the inner growth to ensure the removal of dead and to allow more sunlight to reach your inner branches.


PRO TIP: Shear your plant so it’s shape is at its widest at ground level, that way you won’t restrict your lower growth’s access to much needed sunlight.


Ready to Prune?

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with some valuable information regarding tree and shrub maintenance. It can’t be stressed enough that proper pruning is essential to not only maintain a beautiful plant, but also a healthy, happy, and safe plant.


Before you prune your landscaping features, make sure you commit to researching a) which season you need to prune each plant for the best results, and b) what method of pruning will be most effective for the type of plant and your desired result.


Still Lost?

If you’ve gotten this far and you’re still overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of pruning your own plants—or if you just don’t feel like doing the required research, give A Greener Tomorrow a call today! We are pros at perfectly pruning pretty plants, and are more than happy to do all of the required work for you. Whether you desire a certain look or if you need a plant rejuvenated, we can do it all. Contact us today and let us make your personal landscape the best it can be!