Now that the days are longer and the nights are getting warmer, more and more plants will be starting into growth and many of them will need pruning to get the most from them during the coming season.


More spring pruning advice:

Spring pruning inspiration


Spring-flowering shrubs

I love the cheerful flowers of spring-flowering shrubs – things like forsythia, flowering currant and weigela – but as soon as the blooms start to fade, I’m out with the secateurs and loppers to prune out the oldest flowered stems. This encourages strong new shoots to grow from the base, while the growth made in the last couple of year’s will produce blooms next spring.


Herbaceous perennials

And it’s now time to cut back any remaining dead stems on herbaceous perennials – those that die back to ground level in the winter. I always leave pruning back of the mid to late summer flowering ones – things like rudbeckias, eryngiums and the taller sedums (or hylotelephium as we should call them now) – until spring to provide added frost protection. But now it’s time to clear the decks to make way for the new shoots.


Ornamental grasses

You can also trim back clumps of ornamental grasses in early spring – including the evergreen types which may have turned into a glorified birdsnest! Use secatuers to carefully trim off the old foliage, as close to the ground as possible, but taking care not to cut the new leaves emerging from the base. I try to choose a dry sunny day for this immensely satisfying task.


Woody plants

And last, a job that gives me the greatest pleasure, is taking loppers or a pruning saw to the woody plants which I cut back hard – or coppice – to produce dramatic summer foliage. This can be done on shrubs and trees like cotinus, sambucus, catalpa and paulownia, pruning down all the woody stems close to the ground. This promotes strong, vigorous shoots from low down with massive leaves that’ll give a lush tropical look to my garden by summer.

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