Answer: The answer to your question really depends upon the type of shrub it is. Anything that has been in place for 40 years will obviously have an extensive root system and that root system should have enough reserve energy to develop new stems if just left alone. The upright sticks you see may be the root system's attempt to regrow the shrub. You can cut all but one down to see if it will develop into a new main stem or trunk. There's really no way to tell - just be patient and eventually you will figure out what the shrub will become. Best wishes with your landscape!
Q&A Library Searching Tips