Skip to main content

How to Prune Plants

Learn how to cut back plants in your garden effectively to encourage new growth and remove dead and diseased branches.


  • Step 1: Study gardening books or online gardening guides to determine the proper shape for the trees, bushes, and other plants in your garden. Maintain your plant's original shape when you're pruning.
  • Step 2: Remove dead flowers regularly from perennial and annual flowering plants to encourage continual flowering.
  • TIP: Use shears or clippers to cut back perennials completely either before or after their growing season.
  • Step 3: Prune shrubs by removing dead or damaged branches. Use shears, loppers, or a saw, depending upon the size of the branches.
  • TIP: Make your pruning cut at a 45-degree angle. This prevents water from collecting in the cut end of the branch, which could allow fungus to grow and disease to spread.
  • Step 4: Find a main branch; then find the nearest side branch that grows upward. Prune the main branch just above the side branch.
  • Step 5: Prune evergreen shrubs in fall or winter, and use the cuttings to decorate for the holidays. Prune again in spring, once new growth has begun, to control height.
  • TIP: Prune evergreen shrubs with needles carefully in spring. Avoid pruning below new growth, or a branch may never grow back.
  • Step 6: Prune shrubs that line your house to provide a clearance of 8 to 12 inches from the shrub to the exterior walls. This protects your home, and improves light and airflow to the back of the shrub.
  • Step 7: Watch your plants thrive for years to come, thanks to careful pruning!
  • FACT: Eastern cottonwoods, which grow all over North America, are the fastest-growing commercially forested tree on the continent, growing up to 190 feet high.

You Will Need

  • An illustrated gardening guide
  • Gardening gloves
  • Gardening shears
  • Gardening clippers
  • Loppers
  • A saw or chainsaw

Popular Categories