Trying to figure out what this tall shrub is in the front yard.
Any ideas? It looks like it probably needs pruning, but I want to figure out what it is before cleaning it up.
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Looks like a variety of ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), possibly a 'Diabolo' cultivar that is reverting to the species or is located in too much shade. Two keys to ninebark identification are the bark on the older stems and the flowers/seedheads. The bark should be exfoliating, something like a paperbark birch; that appears to be the case with two stems in the bottom photo. The flowerheads are small, ball-shaped collections of flowers, while the seeds are kind of nutlike and often pinkish in the colored-leaved cultivars. It does not look like this shrub flowered this spring, though. (Sorry about lack of scientific nomenclature; too early in the day and no coffee yet).
The shrub is certainly overgrown, but if it's a ninebark it won't like being sheared. I'd treat it like a lilac and take out about a third of the oldest stems, as close to the ground as you can get, with maybe a little pruning of specific branches higher up.