Winter Pruning of Conifers and Broadleaf Shrubs
Late winter is the ideal time to perform major pruning on evergreens including conifers and many broadleaf shrubs such as holly and boxwood. Pruning just before new growth initiates will allow the plant to fill in rapidly in spring so the plant does not have that “just pruned look” for very long. Now is a good time to remove branches that may have been damaged by winter storms or low temperatures.
When pruning most conifers, do not cut beyond the green portion of the branch. With few exceptions, conifer species do not produce new growth on older wood so if pruning is too drastic, new growth will not be produced on the pruned branch. With broadleaf shrubs, selectively prune branches to different lengths to provide a layered appearance rather than shearing off all growth to the same level. Pruning, rather than shearing, provides a more natural appearance to the plant and size can be more readily maintained with this technique. If you prefer a more formal, specific appearance to the plant, then shearing may be the best technique.