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The 1/3 Rule for Pruning Shrubs

When pruning shrubs like hydrangeas, roses, and lilacs, a lot of us find ourselves contemplating whether to trim more or less. Some may choose to prune less to avoid unnecessary damage to the plant, while others prune more to achieve their desired shape. Both of these practices won't improve the shrub and may even stunt the plant's growth. Learning the proper technique makes pruning shrubs easier. To help prune your shrubs correctly, we suggest you follow the 1/3 rule.

What is the 1/3 Rule?

The 1/3 rule involves cutting about 1/3 of wood during any pruning activity. This moderate pruning practice is a balanced approach to pruning shrubs that stimulates new growth. The plant loses a good amount of stems, usually on the top section, allowing more light and air to enter the inside of the plant. This pruning technique keeps the foliage and nutrients in balance, helps the plant heal faster, and encourages new stem growth.

When Should I Apply the 1/3 Rule?

While it may be tempting to prune your shrub during the pruning season, the 1/3 rule only applies to fully established plants. Pruning newly planted shrubs and small trees should be performed after a season or two, when the roots are fully secured.

What Tools Do I Need?

Using the tools for pruning your shrubs is as important as knowing the proper pruning technique. Before each pruning session, your tools should be sharp and clean to help prevent disease-causing bacteria from damaging your shrub.

Pruning shears are the most commonly used tool in pruning. They look and work like your regular scissors, designed to be lightweight and easy to grip. Because of their size, pruners can cut in tight and small spaces within your shrub or bushes. Pruners can help maintain dense shrubs by cutting a fragment of branches up to 1/4 inch in diameter, following the 1/3 rule of pruning.

If you're looking for a bypass pruning shear, look for a pair with a protective coating since these will prevent the blades from corrosion, are durable, and sharp. Consider the cutting capacity, making sure your pruner can cut through the branches of your shrubs. The handles should also fit your hand size and be comfortable to hold, even during long hours of pruning, just like our EnduroPRO pruning shears. A bypass pruner with replacement parts is also a great choice.

What about branches with a larger diameter? Often measuring up to 36 inches in length, pruning larger branches are where loppers come in handy. Giving you added reach through its long handles, they're what you need to cut back overgrown shrubs or bushes.

If you're looking for a bypass lopper, choose one that has long handles for added leverage. However, keep in mind the longer they are, the heavier they'll be. Ergonomic and non-slip grips add comfort while pruning, while a coated blade will allow you to prune up to 2 inches thick.

If you still can't decide which pruning tools to add to your garden shed, we have a detailed guide with the must-have pruning tools you need for your shrubs.

Basic Pruning Technique to Use

The basic pruning technique involves knowing which stems or canes to cut and when to prune.

For shrubs and small trees, it's best to prune during late winter or early spring. During this time, the plant is at its dormant period and preparing for new growth. You can prune your spring-flowering shrub after they bloom, allowing air and sunlight to enter the inner part of the plant.

For established shrubs, use your pruning shear to cut the dead, dying, and diseased branches, followed by branches that are going inward, clustering, crossing with each other, and at an acute angle. Remember to practice the 1/3 rule, removing enough wood that's not too little or too many.

Are you using the right pruning tools for your shrubs?

The idea behind Haus & Garten was to create a collection of premium-grade tools that would meet the different needs and demands of avid and professional gardeners when it comes to their pruning tasks.

Greg Schultz, owner of Haus & Garten, produced a selection of quality tools that are not only available for professional gardeners, but also to avid and home gardeners who hope to find ease and comfort in pruning their shrubs.

As someone who has worked in the landscaping industry for almost three decades, Greg understands what makes a high-quality pruning tool. Greg says, "Pruning can be as easy as 1-2-snip... All you really need is 1- the right knowledge, 2- the right tool, and you can start pruning your plants."

Long before Greg founded Haus & Garten, he had a very successful business—as a professional landscaper and arborist.

For the past three decades, Greg's experience with working for many clients helped him understand the needs and demands of gardeners when working on different pruning tasks. With this in mind, he developed Haus & Garten and the PRO range of pruning tools in 2010.

Greg's goal was to make a range of premium-grade pruning tools that gardeners could rely on for quality and performance. Many of his customers were able to prove that his pruning tools were able to reach this goal. For example, Tony commented on the precision, smoothness, and effortless pruning he has done using the EnduroPRO bypass pruning shears.

"Precision, smooth and effortless pruning. I'm simply amazed by the ease, comfort and performance that I'm experiencing each time I use this tool. What a great product!"


Haus & Garten Pruners have been designed with ergonomics in mind and the first thing you will notice is the contoured-shape handles that fit perfectly in your hands when you take that first snip. Spring loaded with a shock absorbing cushion which reduces the strain on your hand with each cut you’ll feel how these pruners do the work and not your hands. Solid yet lightweight and made from forged aluminum construction, these pruners make pruning a much more comfortable experience for you, so you aren’t left feeling sore after pruning which you’d normally experience when using pruners with thinner or plain straight handles. One particular model we have has an inclined cutting head that keeps the wrist in a cutting neutral position which is especially useful if you’re going to do extensive pruning.

At Haus & Garten, we recognize the specific needs and demands that you'll need for different pruning jobs. Below is a brief description of each model that are best suited for different needs that include; intensive day-to-day pruning, prolonged heavy use and light detailed precision work; all of which are thoughtfully designed to ensure you'll get the optimal comfort, durability, and performance that will allow you to enjoy pruning just like I do.

ClassicPRO Pruning Shears - The Choice for the Toughest Gardening Challenges, these Pruners are Made for Hard Use, Whilst Still Delivering Smooth, Precise Cutting Action That's Easy on Your HandsMade for medium to large-sized hands, with a cutting capacity of 1 inch and a straight angled head. It is the universal pruner for more general and heavy pruning.

EnduroPRO Pruning Shears - Ergonomically Designed For Optimum ComfortShaped To Neutralize Wrist Bendingwith a vertical inclination keeping the hand and wrist in a neutral position when pruning. This reduces wrist injuries and hand fatigue. The contoured handles are easier to grip and much more comfortable to use. The inclined angled head improves maneuverability, making it easy to use on dense plants.

PrecisionPRO Pruning Shears A Compact Pruning Shears Built For Smaller to Medium Hands! Easy To Use and Lightweight. It has a cutting capacity of up to 0.8 inch and a slightly inclined angled head for reaching into small and tight spaces of plants. It is mostly used for light day-to-day pruning.

With all of the great features and benefits it offers, why would you want to call your gardener to do your pruning? Instead of paying $50/hr for a professional gardener or $400 for a tree pruning service, invest in a really good pair of pruning shears and do it yourself. You’ll be surprised at how easy and enjoyable it can be when done with the right tool.

At Haus & Garten, if you’re not happy with what we promise, there’s a money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose, but like so many previous customers, I’m sure you’ll love our PRO range of Bypass Pruning Shears.



$32.90 $54.90

The Choice for the Toughest Gardening Challenges, These Pruners are Made for Hard Use, Whilst Still Delivering Smooth, Precise Cutting Action That's Easy on Your Hands.

$31.90 $59.34

Ergonomically Designed For Optimum Comfort And Shaped To Neutralize Wrist Bending, Ideal For Regular And Day-To-Day Pruning.

$30.90 $56.67

Compact Size Pruner Built For Smaller To Medium Hands! Easy To Use, Lightweight, Versatile Pruner Designed For Lighter Pruning Work, A Solid Compact Tool For Faster & More Efficient Pruning.

$42.90 $64.90

Compound Action Bypass Loppers Designed To Provide 3X More Power Than Traditional Ones, Built With Long Handles For Added Leverage, Ideal For Tougher Branches.