Despite what many people may think, there is one major difference between pruning old shrubs and newer shrubs. That difference is that old shrubs can often require a bit more care since (depending on the age of the bush) they may not be able to withstand the harsh changes that can often accompany pruning. Generally speaking the mechanics are the same, you just need to spend more time focusing on the care and welfare of the plant than you would normally.
- Have the right tools. Before you do any type of pruning, you need to make sure that you have the right kind of tools. This means that you should have some pruning shears, at the very least. This is the absolute basic tool that you will need, and while you can always use some additional ones, this one will generally get the most work. Additional tools can include things like lopping shears, secateurs, a pruning saws. These tools can also be powered or unpowered, depending on your preference.
- Check the tools. Prior to using the tools, you should always check to make sure that they are in good working condition. If they are not, then get them into that good working condition prior to using them. For example, all the blades need to be sharpened, as well as cleaned. In addition, all the tools you plan on using need to be free from any signs of rust, and also ensuring that any power tools you plan on using have been serviced recently.
- Know your plant. Make sure that you also know the plant you plan on pruning, prior to pruning it. Not all shrubs can be pruned in the same way, and it is very important to know which you are dealing with. If you don't, you can easily end up causing some serious damage to your plant without even realizing it. For example, lilac bushes have a different flowering and growing season than say an evergreen shrub. If you tried to prune the lilac the same way that you would the evergreen, then you can pretty much guarantee that you will need a new lilac bush within a year or two.
- Prune only when appropriate. It is highly important, vitally important even, to only prune your shrubs when appropriate. Generally speaking, you will want to prune the shrubs about one season before they bloom. For example, if you have a summer blooming shrub it needs to be pruned in the early spring. There are some other instances when you will want to prune, but those are almost always in an emergency situation (i.e., the shrub has some dead or dying branches, and you want to save the rest of the plant).