How to Prune a Juniper Shrub

Updated November 21, 2016

Junipers come in many varieties, from the bright-green, broadleaved Arcadia to the handsome, almost feathery Blue Star. They can be planted as screens, hedges or for added interest and colour in the winter months. Many of them, such as Andorra and Blueberry Delight, produce berries that sustain birds and other wildlife. Junipers need little to no pruning and should be allowed to grow into their natural shape, which can be compact or rangy, depending on the cultivar.

Prune in the spring, before the season's growth begins, or in late fall, when junipers are dormant.

Cut away dead, brown foliage or leafless branches low on your juniper shrub where sunlight does not penetrate, using short-handled pruning shears. Snip them off 1/4 from the trunk to avoid injuring healthy bark. Prune with long-handled pruning shears if the juniper is mature and the trunk is inaccessible.

Prune wayward juniper branches that block windows, doors or overhang other plantings. Cut back branch tips to a vertically-growing side branch farther back.

Rake up dead juniper branches and foliage. Dispose of them in yard waste bags. Wash the blades of your pruning equipment with soap and hot water to remove sticky sap. Allow them to air dry before storing them.


Put on gloves to protect your hands before pruning junipers. Many of them have spiky foliage, and all of them produce sticky sap when cut. Rather than pruning mature junipers back to wood that doesn't have foliage, consider replacing them.


Do not shear juniper hedges in summer, or more than once a year. Doing this promotes bushy growth on the exterior of the shrub and will cause the interior of the juniper to die from lack of sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Short-handled pruning shears
  • Long-handled pruning shears
  • Rake
  • Yard waste bags
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