Generally, Cotinus requires little or no pruning which makes it an easy to grow shrub. In late winter/early spring around February/March time a light prune can be undertaken if needed to remove diseased, spindly or crossing branches and then a feed is all that is required. Equally Cotinus can be left for several years with little or no attention.
Cotinus when grown in its preferred conditions can be quite vigorous and so get large and it maybe it outgrows it allotted spot or is shadowing neighbouring shrubs and plants. In which case Cotinus can be hard pruned only if the shrub is mature and it will tolerate being cut back hard or coppiced and this will keep it in check although at the expense of flowers. Hard pruning will also have the effect of producing larger leaves that year. Cotinus will respond well to clipping and I have seen it to good effect clipped into a round shape, which makes a nice contrast from green topiary. Winter is the best time to prune or trim Cotinus, around February when the shrub is dormant and during a mild spell.
If Cotinus is not the ideal shrub for your garden, check out shrubs and bushes; spring flowering shrubs; summer flowering shrubs; shrubs with autumn and winter interest; and evergreen shrubs.
Cotinus comes into leaf late in spring but the compensation is the great autumn colour. Cotinus looks good with many border plants, blue and pink Clematis, with vibrant greens, as in the image centre which is with Alchemilla mollis, and with strong blues such as Agapanthus and good with Crocosmia; and also with other garden shrubs by way of contrast as in image top left with Cornus.