Your Complete Guide to Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Care and How To

February and March is the best time to prune most trees and shrubs in Iowa.  The absence of foliage at this time of year gives you a clear view of the tree and allows the selection and removal of appropriate branches.  Also, when pruned in the late dormant season the walling-off, compartmentalization, or sealing of wounds can begin as soon as growth starts in the spring giving the tree the most time to recover from the pruning cut.

Iowa State University has many resources available to help with pruning all your woody plants.

pruning shrubs

Proper Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs

pruning saw on tree

Guide to Pruning Equipment

pruned branches on tree

Pruning FAQs

Pruning Video

Principles of Pruning (videos)

Pruning Trees Pub

Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer (pdf)

Topping Publication

Topping – Tree Care or Tree Abuse? (pdf)

newly planted tree

Pruning Young Trees


Pruning Oak Trees to Avoid Oak Wilt

Pruning Shrubs Pub

Pruning Ornamental Shrubs (pdf)

Lilac  Photo by jStock

Pruning Large, Overgrown Shrubs


Pruning Hydrangeas

formal hedge

How to Prune Formal Hedges

Pruning Fruit Trees Pub

Pruning and Training Fruit Trees (pdf)


How to Prune and Train Young Apple Trees

Large apple tree

How to Prune Neglected Apple Trees


How to Prune 
Raspberries in the Home Garden

Blackberry Photo by Igor Normann

How to Prune Blackberries in the Home Garden


How to Prune Grapevines in the Home Garden


Last Reviewed: 
January, 2023