I just moved into a new house (in Washington state in the US Pacific North West) and we have this large shrub in the front yard:

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The old growth seems to have green leaves whereas the new growth is more pink-ish. It is probably about 7-8 feet tall and I assume it hasn't been pruned in a very, very long time. It has very thin, very sharp thorns.

Any help in identifying what this is, and how/when should I prune them?

  • If this is barberry you don't want to prune it unless it is in the way. It would look terrible until it grew back. You could thin it using very thick gloves that were all the way up to your arm pits or you could use long long handled by pass pruners. And a big tip if you live in the Seattle area; call Sawdust Supply and find out about Gro-Co. The only mulch I used, once a client saw it, smelled it they and their neighbors were sold. You are so lucky! I would never use bark as mulch. Sawdust Supply in Seattle. They can also come to your house and spray it onto your beds professionally.
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 19:11
  • The shrub looks great - why would you want to prune it? Is it in the way of a sidewalk of something? Just remove any dead branches (using the gloves and tools Stormy suggested), but don't try to shape it.
    – Jurp
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 23:33
  • Why prune? Well we just moved in and there are a lot of plants on the property that haven't been maintained in a long time, and I was almost considering pruning it so that we could get things under control (e.g., there is another bush behind this one on the right that is getting drowned out, not to mention some maybe irrigation-related structures on the ground in the middle of the bush that I can't reach at the moment). Very dark on the inside too since no light gets in. Was thinking of doing a rejuvenation pruning like here: youtube.com/watch?v=doB_HGykkdo. Garden-rookie mistake?
    – gammapoint
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 1:33

1 Answer 1


Is it spiny? If yes, it could be a type of berberis. Check out this link to Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea "Pink Queen": https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/73387/Berberis-thunbergii-f-atropurpurea-Pink-Queen-(v)/Details There are umpteen berberis species and cultivars. If it is a berberis, they're generally as tough as old boots (well, they are here in the UK), so just cut it back as necessary.

  • Yes, it has very sharp, very thin thorns. It does seem to be a type of Berberis. Thanks so much!
    – gammapoint
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 19:07

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