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What are the Best Tips for Shrub Trimming?

To master shrub trimming, select the right time of year—late winter or early spring for most species. Use sharp, clean tools to make precise cuts, and follow the natural shape of the plant to encourage healthy growth. Remember, less is often more; over-trimming can harm your shrubs. Curious about the specifics for your favorite shrub? Let's delve deeper into tailored care tips.
Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Just a few good tips for shrub trimming can make maintaining the health and beauty of shrubs such as juniper and yew simplified. The time of year is especially important when trimming shrubs. Late spring to early summer is the best time for shrub trimming. Some gardeners go even further and assert that cool morning weather is best for trimming shrubs.

Since shrub trimming is done to encourage new growth, dead parts of the shrub must be removed. Otherwise, the plant will use its energy for rejecting old growth rather than toward creating new branches. Shrubs should be trimmed well once a year, but care should be taken not to over trim.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

A good shrub trimming tip is to think of human hair cuts when it’s time to trim shrubs. Like regularly trimming human hair, the shrubs should be trimmed just enough to get rid of dead material and encourage new growth. A pleasant shape should be the goal for shrub trims as well as human hair cuts.

Trimming off dead branches and leaves before shaping shrubs is a good idea. Green areas under the shrub's bark should be left as is because these are still alive. Once the old growth is removed, the remaining healthy plant can be trimmed to form a pleasing shape. Shrubs may be trimmed into formal rectangular or rounded shapes or just cut to follow the shrub’s natural shape. Shrub shape should be determined by the homeowner’s preference as well as the exterior style of the house.

Either hand or power trimmers can be used to trim shrubs, but make sure the trimmer's blades are sharp. Dull blades can easily damage shrubs and create an unattractive shape for the plants. Shrub branches should always be cut at an angle rather than straight across when using hand-held trimmers. A slightly rounded approach can be used during shrub trimming with electric clippers. Not only should shrub trimmer blades be kept sharp, they should be lubricated to keep them flexible.

Although a major shrub trimming should be done once a year in late spring to early summer, the trimmed shape of the shrubs should then be maintained. During regular yard work, shrub branches can be snipped off here and there to keep a neat shape. As far as fancy shrub shapes go, these may be learned and practiced by homeowners through books and/or classes at local nurseries.

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Discussion Comments


I think the best tip for trimming your shrubs is to buy a good quality pair of garden shears from the start and then take care of them as much as possible.

A good quality pair of shears will last you for thirty years or more. Particularly if you follow the advice in the article and keep them sharp and oiled. So many people will just drop their equipment in the grass after using it. It might not seem like a few days could affect the tool but it does.

Shrub trimming tools, like any other kind of tool, should be respected. If they are, they will last you forever.


I think often those fancy shrub shapes are made up from the shrub being shaped with wire as well as trimming.

Maybe the wire allows it to be done more quickly or with more accuracy than if the shaping was done with trimming alone.

I think if you want to know how to trim a shrub into a fancy shape like that you have to start planning from when it is small. That way you can shape the branches into an ideal configuration to make maintenance that much easier later on.

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