Hedge trimming and pruning of shrubs is done any number of ways, at different times, for different reasons. To give them a more attractive shape; to keep them from getting too tall or too wide for the space they inhabit; to induce fresh new growth for more flowers, fruits, or colored bark; to ease the shock of transplanting; to remove dead, diseased or damaged wood; to let light inside a dense plant in order to improve its health; and to rejuvenate an old plant that is no longer growing well.
What the reason for pruning is will help determine how and when to prune. For example, when rejuvenating an old shrub, often it is best to remove one third of the branches at a time until all growth is new. In some cases as with honeysuckle, butterfly bush and hydrangeas, extreme pruning almost to the ground is necessary. In other cases pruning out a few main stems to let light in may be enough.
Timing, however is everything. Thinning or rejuvenating is usually done in early spring. Removal of dead or diseased wood can be done at any time. And with flowering shrubs, pruning at the wrong time can eliminate all flowering for the year. Those that bloom on the previous season’s growth usually flower early and should be pruned after flowering. Those that bloom on new wood don’t usually flower until after June. These should be pruned in early Spring, before new growth begins.