To trim a barberry bush, prepare your pruning implements, tie up the branches, cut out bottom branches, remove dead or sickly wood, untie the plant, and thin out the branches. Finish by shaping the bush with hedge clippers.
- Prepare to prune
Dip the blades of long-handled pruning shears and hedge clippers in boiling water to remove bacteria and fungus. Wipe with a clean cloth. Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt for protection.
- Prepare the plant
Because barberry bushes are thorny, pre-bundle the plant. Tie a cord around a strong cluster of branch bases. Walk around the bush, winding the cord around the branches and cinching them in tightly. Tie the end of the cord to another branch cluster.
- Cut the bottom branches
Use the long-handled pruning tool to cut off the branches just above the ground. Remove any suckers at this time.
- Prune out dead or sickly wood
Look for dead wood in the center of the plant, and use the pruning tool to cut it out. Do the same with sickly branches anywhere in the plant.
- Thin out healthy branches
Unfetter the plant, and remove the dead and sickly branches you cut. Select branches near the center, and use the long-handled tool to cut them out. Try to maintain symmetry in the pruning. For larger branches near the trunk, angle the blade at 45 degrees when cutting to avoid damaging the trunk.
- Shape the shrub
Use the hedge clippers to lightly trip the exterior of the barberry bush into the desired shape.