Trimming A Shrub Or A Tree

This is one of the highest authorities on pruning. The content contains an easy to understand and great way to connect people to the world of trimming and pruning. It is amazing to read and experience the plants inside this book. Here is an excerpt so you can experience it for yourself. It comes right out of the book: How To Prune Trees, Shrubs, & Climbers  Author: Richard Bird  

“Renovation pruning

It is not uncommon to be faced with a shrub that has not been pruned for many years, and is now in desperate need of renovation. Although the task may look daunting, it should not be a problem provided you take a systemic approach.

Clearing the way

The first stage, as with all pruning jobs, is to remove the dead wood. Next, take out any damaged, diseased or otherwise dying wood. In an overgrown shrub this often amounts to a great deal of material. Once it has been removed, the shrub already looks better and you can now see the framework you have to work on. Also remove any suckers around the plant. A neglected sumach (Rbus), for example, is likely to produce quite a number of suckers and these should be removed below ground level where the shoot joins the root. 

If the shrub is badly diseased, it is best to remove it completely and start again, as it is highly unlikely that you will be able to resurrect it successfully. 


Remove any weak growth and any branches or stems that rub against or cross over other branches. The next thing to do is to try to reinvigorate the shrub. Remove some of the old wood to stimulate fresh new growth. Generally, several of the oldest main stems should be cut out completely or cut back to any new growth starting from near the base. Up to one-third of the oldest wood can be taken out. Repeat this process over the next three years until the shrub has completely regenerated itself. Some shrubs, such as Ceanothus, are reluctant to produce new growth from old wood. In this case, either omit this stage or remove the plant entirely and put a new one in its place. 

Shaping up 

A shrub that has been heavily pruned in this way is likely to be rather straggly and it may be necessary to reduce the remaining branches so that a better shape is achieved. The amount that can be removed will vary from shrub to shrub., but it can be up to about a half. However, some, such as Ceanothus, should only be trimmed over to remove the previous year’s growth, as they will not reshoot from old wood. 

Cutting down to the ground

There are some shrubs that can be simply cut to the ground and they will start again. Lilac (Syringa), elder (Sambucus) and hazel (Corylus) are examples. Remove some of the top growth initially, so that the weight is cut these off at about 15-30cm (6-12in) from the ground. If it is a grafted shrub, be certain to cut above the graft. 


There are some shrubs that are virtually impossible to regenerate. If you cut back into the older wood, no new growth will appear and the plant will die. The best way to cope with this is to ensure that the shrubs are properly pruned in the first place and therefore do not become in need of renovation. However, if you inherit such overgrown plants when you move to a new garden, the only way to cope with them is to dig them out and replace them.”

So as you can see in this book it contains a ton of information on the different plants and tree. It breaks down the before and after of this process. It is the go to book we use from time to time when we have a question on the subject of trimming or pruning shrubs bushes or trees.

Here are some of the awesome pictures this book has as well. All credit for pictures are out of the book “How To Prune Trees, Shrubs & Climbers” Author: Richard Bird. We hope you enjoy our review and want you to go out and buy this knoweldge tool for yourself to learn how to prune and trim!

removing suckers