I call this one of my “go-to” plants. Manhattan Euonymus is tough, nice looking, fast growing, and cheap (I mean relatively inexpensive). Yes you could shear it – many people do, but the result will be excessive, dense branching on the sheared ends. This produces that mass of stems and leaves on the exterior and nothing but bare stems on the inside. Look, I get it. If you have a huge hedge it’s not practical to hand-prune. But I really feel I need to state the correct way to prune if you have the time and desire.
Look at the flush of growth on this euonymus in the pic above. If we don’t get this plant under control the view of the house will be obliterated. To do this I start in one area and pick a point on the plant where even after aggressive pruning there will still be enough foliage to look presentable and “mask” the heavy cuts I’ll be making. And that’s the key. Notice in the picture here on the left that I’m ready to cut into 2nd, possibly 3rd year growth. But before I make the cut I check to see that there’s leafy growth nearby that will eventually fill in and help disguise the major cut.
Like with most shrub pruning, make sure the plant shape is getting wider towards the base, i.e. don’t go in at the bottom and make it look like a ball. There are still a few cuts remaining, but you can already see a difference. If you look at the before pic above you’ll notice that most of the pruning occurred in the upper portion of the plant. I did proportionately less cutting as I came down the sides towards the ground. To avoid creating “indescribable shapes” and hearing wise-crack remarks from neighbors, stand back occasionally and check it out as you go. I always say “picture an imaginary line as to how the shape should look (think “mounded” and wider at the base) and try to follow it”.