7 Backyard shrubs to prune in April for vibrant growth

Pruning forsythia

As spring bursts into full color, it’s time to get your garden in shape for a stunning floral display. In this April pruning guide, we will discuss the importance of maintaining and caring for seven essential shrubs. By adhering to proper pruning techniques, you’ll ensure these plants remain healthy, flowering abundantly, and adding charm to your landscape.

Why is pruning important?

Pruning is an essential aspect of gardening that promotes healthier growth, allows better air circulation, reduces diseases, and encourages more abundant flowering in your plants. It also helps you keep control of your plant’s size and shape while enhancing their overall appearance.

Pruning at the right time ensures minimal stress on the plant and maximum benefits from your efforts.

While we’ll provide a list of trees to prune, note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other plants that may also benefit from pruning in April.

1/Cotinus: The Smoky Beauty

Cotinus, commonly known as “smoke bush” due to its plumes resembling smoke, boasts dramatic foliage in shades of purple, red, and yellow. Although Cotinus generally requires minimal pruning, shaping it through late winter or early spring can help guarantee a more stunning foliage display. To prune Cotinus:

  • Remove any dead, damaged, or crossed branches.
  • Thin out crowded areas to improve air circulation and light penetration.
  • Shorten overly long stems to maintain desired size and shape.

2/Dogwood: Winter Wonder Stems

Known for their striking stem colors during winter months, dogwood (cornus) shrubs offer interest even when the garden is dormant. After admiring their vibrant stems throughout winter, schedule pruning in late winter or early spring after the last frost, typically in April for many climates.

  • Cut back one-third of the oldest stems to ground level, encouraging fresh growth and vivid colors.
  • Trim the remaining branches by up to half their length, ensuring they maintain a pleasing shape.
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3/Forsythia: Early Spring Blossoms

With blooms appearing as early as February, forsythia requires pruning after its blossoms fade, usually from mid-March to April. This timing ensures new growth has ample time to develop before next year’s flowering season.

  • Carefully remove dead, damaged, and crowded branches.
  • Prune back one-third of the older canes to the ground to stimulate rejuvenating growth.
  • Maintain a natural shape by lightly trimming the outer branches.

4/Fuchsia: Delicate Blooms in Hardy and Tender Types

Fuchsia plants, known for their beautiful, intricate flowers, come in both hardy and tender types. Trim them once new growth appears, indicating the risk of frost has passed:

  • Remove any remaining dead growth or winter damage.
  • Shape your fuchsia, cutting back long stems and nipping off the tips to encourage bushiness.
  • For hardy varieties, prune down to two healthy buds on each branch for a compact plant.

5/Lavatera (Malva): Abundant Blooms on New Wood

Once the threat of frost has passed in April, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and give your Lavatera (Malva) a thorough pruning. Grab your trusty pruning shears and aim to cut the shrub back to about six inches from ground level. This might seem like a drastic measure, but it’s the secret sauce to stimulating vigorous new growth.

By trimming back the old growth, you’re essentially sending a signal to your Lavatera that it’s time to get down to business. Each precise cut encourages the plant to push out fresh shoots, which will be the powerhouse behind this year’s blooming bonanza. So don’t hold backā€”be bold with those shears!

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Once you’ve completed the pruning session, sit back and watch as your Lavatera transforms. Those six-inch stubs will soon sprout forth with new growth, promising a profusion of blooms that will bring your garden to life with color and vitality.


6/Perovskia (Russian Sage): Aromatic and Graceful

A fantastic perennial shrub, Perovskia (Russian sage) adds beauty and scent to your garden with its aromatic foliage and striking purple flowers. Prune Russian sage as you see new growth at its base:

  • Cut back last season’s stems to within a few inches of the ground, taking care not to damage new shoots.
  • Thin out any crowded stems for better air circulation and growth.

7/Rose of Sharon: Late Summer Blooms

Flowering from late summer to fall, Rose of Sharon invites a profusion of large, colorful blooms into your garden. Rose of Sharon can be pruned during spring before it begins to leaf out:

  • Remove any dead or unhealthy branches at their base.
  • Shape and thin out the plant as desired, cutting back older branches by up to one-third if necessary.


By following this April pruning guide, you will foster attractive, healthy plants that provide colorful displays throughout the growing season. Ensure these seven essential shrubs receive proper care to reap the rewards of an enchanting garden oasis.


Justin, an avid writer, is equally passionate about gardening, especially cultivating beautiful flowers and productive vegetable patches. His writing skillfully intertwines his gardening experiences with vivid descriptions and keen insights, inspiring readers to appreciate nature's beauty and consider their own gardening adventures.