1. Prune away dead and damaged branches.
Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub's center. At right, Roger neatens up a yew by pruning wayward shoots back to an intersecting branch. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower.
Trim overgrown evergreens back to a branch whose direction you want to encourage.
TOH Pro Tip: Roger Cook, TOH Landscape Contractor says,
"Now's the time to get some basic spring yard maintenance done. Then, as temperatures warm up, you'll be in better shape for seeding and planting, and for enjoying the outdoors."