5 Plants You Need to Prune in April — It's Such a Crucial Part of Growing in Your Spring Garden

Experts share their insider tips on which plants need a little care this season

A garden with green plants, a paved path, and a recessed seating area with outdoor furniture
(Image credit: Joe Fletcher / Feldman Architecture)

Spring is here and while it's known for being the season of blooms and growth, that doesn't mean you should neglect sprucing up your garden at this time of the year. In fact, it's just as important to keep your garden in tip-top shape during springtime. While overall pruning is a great gardening practice, we've heard from professional gardeners that some spring plants in particular require a little extra clip and care.

We spoke to the experts to find out which plants need that added bit of seasonal TLC and they've given us all the tips you'll need to care for your modern garden to make sure that it's at its healthiest. Understandably, this can be a hefty task for homeowners with large gardens but trust the experts and dust off your pruning kits.

Shearing your plants and cleaning them will show clear long-term benefits in the form of lush foliage and beautifully healthy blooms. Owning a well-groomed garden will help you make more use of your backyard too. If you take the time to thoughtfully prune your plants, you'll be left with a gorgeous garden glow-up right in time for your next spring shindig.

1. Blooming Shrubs

garden design with hydrangeas

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

If you're confused about which plants need a clean-up in April, look out for shrubs that are currently flourishing. In conversation with Allison Jacob from Trimmed Roots, she informs us that spring-blooming shrubs like forsythia, lilac, azalea, and rhododendron should be pruned right after they finish flowering. 'Since these plants form their flower buds on old wood during the previous season, pruning them too late risks removing the buds for next year's blooms,' advises Allison.

Taming your overgrown flowering shrubs is essential to promote healthy vegetation in the upcoming seasons. Gardening expert Tony O'Neill tells us that it's best to prune shrubs in early to mid-spring before they hit their growth spurt. 'Remove any dead or damaged branches to encourage healthy new growth. For flowering shrubs, pruning can also help to shape the plant and enhance blooming,' says Tony.

2. Fruit Trees

cherry tree with lots of fruit

(Image credit: Alamy)

April is the perfect time to give your apple, pear, and cherry trees a little R&R. Contrary to what you might think, considering the sheer expanse of some fruit trees, even these plants require some shearing to maintain their idyllic image. 'The best window is late winter or early spring before the buds break. Pruning helps manage the tree's size, improves airflow, and encourages higher fruit production,' says Allison.

Tony also advises gardeners to remove any crowded branches including the ones that grow inward towards the center of the tree. He goes on to tell us that clean cuts near the branch collar make all the difference and support the healing of the trees. April is also a great time to pick off any ripening fruit and make a small basket of your fresh spring loot.

3. Roses

rose garden against a blue sky

(Image credit: Getty / John W Banagan)

Roses are only as romantic as they're famed to be when they are generously taken care of. According to Allison, pruning roses in early spring is crucial for promoting vigorous new canes and abundant blooms. She says that tending to your roses invigorates the plant and improves air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases.

These pretty flowers do well when they're basking in the sun and taking in the air they need to bloom. Tony tells us that repeat-flowering roses, in particular, need a good amount of shaping around the month of April. 'Cut back the plant to about one-third of its size, removing dead or weak branches to encourage vigorous growth. Try and aim for an open vase shape to abundant air and sunlight exposure,' says Tony.

4. Perennials

Ornamental grass garden with mixed borders

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the days get brighter and longer, keep an eye out for your perennial plants like hostas, daylilies, and ornamental grasses. 'Cut back any dead foliage or stems from the previous year, leaving just a few inches above the ground. This tidy-up allows new growth to emerge unobstructed,' says Allison. She adds that ornamental grasses need only be trimmed when new buds are visibly apparent. Although some heat-tolerant perennials thrive in warm environments, they can still benefit from a spring spruce.

It's evident that sprucing does more than just beautify your garden and Tony agrees. 'Clean up helps prevent disease and pests from harboring in the plant debris, so it's also important to always use clean and sharp pruning tools,' he says.

5. Evergreens

Boxwood edging path

(Image credit: Sarah Wilson/Future)

If you've immersed yourself into the world of modern garden trends and you have formal hedges like boxwood, privet, or yew growing on your premises, then it's officially time to give them a trim. While tidying up your hedges, Allison suggests using proper hedge shears to trim them into the desired shape, tapering the sides slightly to allow sunlight to reach the bottom branches. Most fast-growing hedges need regular upkeep to maintain their design but April is an especially good time to pay attention to these lush green plants.

Besides shearing these spring plants, don't forget to water them and clean up any of the residual waste that accumulates, once you're done sprucing. Dedicating a day off to care for your plants will do wonders for your spring garden and you'll have a wonderfully clean and serene backyard before you know it.

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News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.