I am a beginner at pruning. Any basic tips?
At a minimum, follow this basic regimen: Take out the three D’s anytime they occur. The D’s are dead, damaged and diseased wood—and why wouldn’t you want to do this? (Some people say there are five D’s: dying and deformed being added to the list.)
Take out all suckers and “water sprouts” as often as required. This means that mess at the base of a grafted shrub or tree that looks like a thicket of shoots surrounding the trunk.
It also means those things that shoot straight up vertically off a branch at a 90-degree angle or thereabouts from the branch, very common on fruit trees, say, or old magnolias. Look at the architecture of these shoots: If you left them on, what would they turn into? Nothing very useful, or well-engineered. Remove.
Similarly, if anything’s thinner than a pencil or turning inward in a way that looks like trouble, off with its head. Rubbing against another branch is no good, either. (Those are probably all in the D called deformed.)