Begin with the basics. First cut back any diseased or damaged branches. Cut back to the undamaged and health branches. If there are two branches that are crossing, cut the most awkwardly placed branch back to the main stem. If there are any weak branches, cut them right down to the base. Pruning to preserve the shape of the tree or shrub or if you are want to promote growth, then the pruning is done between the buds on the stems. If the buds are positioned opposite each other on the stem, make a clean horizontal cut just above them, about 1 cm. If the buds are placed alternately you should angle the cut, starting on the opposite side of the stem and slanting upwards so the top of the cut is about 1 cm above the bud on the other side. Remember that if you want to influence the shape of the tree or shrub you will need to prune back to two or more buds, as the new branch will grow in the direction the bud you prune to, is facing. For example, if a plant is growing over the path or paving, try to prune away from the path or paving, while if possible, not to spoil the plants overall shape.
Knowing when to prune which plants is important. There are shrubs that flower on the current year’s growth. These are pruned in early spring which promotes further flowering and growth later in the season. Other shrubs flower on a one year old wood and flower early in spring. These are cut back as soon as their flowers have faded. This ensures flowering the following season. Any trimming of shrubs that produce their flowers on short growths which extend from the main branch should be done in late spring, once the flowering has finished.