Pruning is one of the most important aspects of gardening we have. Before you grab the pruning shears, be able to answer three questions: Why are you pruning? When should you prune the specific plant you are growing? and How should the plant be pruned? Timing is critical for flowering and fruiting plants. In general, plants that bloom in the spring should be pruned immediately following pruning and plants that bloom in the summer should be pruned before growth begins in late February.
Formal pruning requires much more work than a natural look in the landscape.
One or two topiary plants can be enough in a landscape--too many and it will get too busy.
There are a few exceptions to the rule such as gardenias and some hydrangeas.
Roses, fruit trees, small fruits and ornamental grasses also have specific requirements for pruning. And crape myrtles are probably the most incorrectly pruned plants we grow, with "crape murder" being the norm, versus the exception. Large shade trees should not be pruned by the home gardener, but knowing what is expected of a tree trimmer is important to avoid major damage to your trees.
Make sure that you have clean, sharp pruning shears and that the size of the pruning tool fits the size of the branches you are pruning. Pruning paints or wound dressings are not needed, and in some cases can actually hinder the recovery time of the pruned areas.