Winter shrub trimming can be done on most types of plant material.  If you live in zone five, we have a list of commonly installed shrubs on our website.  This list also will tell you how to care for your shrub including if winter shrub trimming is optimal.  You can find this page by clicking here.  One of the main reasons why winter shrub trimming works so well is because the main structure of the plant is exposed.  deciduous shrubs drop their foliage in the fall, leaving an exposed plant.  Having the plant exposed during winter shrub trimming will allow you to see the shape of the plant better, determine what parts of the plant require trimming and identify any damaged part of the plant.  You may be able to see cross branches that are rubbing on each other.  The rubbing will lead to a removal of bark and expose the plant to infection or disease.  Being able to see and properly shape your plant can help restore a lost form or train a new shrub in the correct growing habits.  Another reason why winter shrub trimming is beneficial is because the plant is dormant.  Having a dormant plant will reduce the stress placed on a plant during pruning.  The plant will not be actively growing and it will not be using it energy to produce foliage.


Pruning overgrown or older shrubs works best in the winter.  If you are performing a drastic pruning, winter is the best time to do this.  Drastic pruning includes any pruning that removes over 1/3 of the plant’s growth at one time.  The plant will have a better chance of survival if the pruning is done in the winter.  Doing this type of pruning in the summer will increase the chances for failure.  The increased heat stress and potentially lower moisture available will also stress the plant.

Winter shrub trimming of evergreens.

Winter shrub trimming of evergreens can be a little more trickier.  If there is snow present, it may not be possible to trim these kinds of shrubs.  Evergreens do best with an early spring or late winter shrub trimming.  This trimming should be done before the new growth of the plant starts.  Here is a link to Iowa State University which includes their recommendations for winter pruning of all types of shrubs and trees.