I have shrubs which are blocking my windows and have grown over walkways. Is this a good time to prune them or should I wait until spring?
Except for spring flowering shrubs like rhododendron, azalea, lilac, spiraea and forsythia, this is an excellent time to prune. Spring flowering shrubs have already formed flower buds for next year. Pruning now would remove many of those flowers. The best time to prune flowering shrubs is right after they bloom.
I prune almost all my shrubs one branch at a time. This keeps their natural shape and thickness. Pruning with power clippers or shears causes plants to develop many more branches than is normal. There are only a few plants like hedges and upright conical junipers that look good with thick growth.
I normally start at the bottom when I prune a shrub. The lowest branches are pruned to the width you want the shrub to be when you have finished pruning. In some cases they are only pruned enough to restore uniformity. As you move up, taper the shrub so branches are pruned shorter as you work up the shrub. Upper branches are pruned the most because they grow the fastest. It is important to prune upper branches so they do not shade lower ones. When lower branches are shaded they lose their leaves. Shrubs develop what I call a “chicken leg effect.”
Start by selecting one of the longest branches and reach down inside other branches. Cut it a little shorter than the size you would like the shrub to be after pruning. Select another long branch and do the same with it. The shorter adjacent branches hide the stubs.