April is an exciting month for gardeners. The emergence of warm and sunny days and the odd April shower starts bringing the ground alive after a winter slumber. Left untouched for too long, however, and your garden can get out of control quickly. Here are some tips for what to do in April to ensure your garden flourishes and looks its best all year round.
In April, the grass suddenly needs cutting. A lot. You can use the cuttings to add to your compost heap. Add just a little at a time though, to keep the heap aerated.
It’s also the perfect time to deal with weeds, and to repair a damaged lawn. When I moved in to my house in December just gone, I inherited a very unloved back garden. As you can see, it’s bumpy, patchy and has a big weed problem.
I need to first kill off the weeds, leaving what grass there is untouched. After that, I’ll be adding grass seed to a prepared and evened out soil. April is the perfect time to do this, once the chance of a frost has passed.
You can also add a fertiliser to your lawn with a high nitrogen content. This will give your grass a bit of a boost at the start of Spring and have it looking its best by Summer.
Deadhead your Spring flowers. This can either extend the blooming period (as in the case with pansies), or focus the plant’s energy in to the bulb for next year’s growth (such as with daffodils).
Your climbing plants will now be growing very fast, so it’s time to tie them in and make sure they’re being guided where you want them to grow.
Hanging baskets can be prepared in April. I tend to buy plug plants for my hanging baskets. They are smaller plants which I order online, and they can be grown on in a greenhouse until all chance of frost has passed. I’ll then transplant them to my baskets.
You can prepare your flower beds by adding some fertiliser, being careful not to burn any existing seedlings with it.
You can also start to plant out hardy annual seeds directly in to beds, such as cornflowers, sunflowers and nasturtiums. Check each seed packet to find out how far apart the drills of seeds should be.
Half hardy bedding plants can be sown undercover or in propagators, and will be planted out in warmer weather.
I also have some Aquilegia on the go in the greenhouse, and it’s the first time I’ve tried growing them so I hope they’ll work out.
Add summer flowering bulbs to your beds, as well as perennial cuttings.
In April, you can also mulch your shrub and rose beds with organic matter to ensure nutrient levels are high. Weeds are running rampant at this time of year, so persistent weeding is a must.
If you have a vegetable patch, it’s possible to sow some vegetable seeds directly in to the soil. You can do this with spinach, carrots, leeks, spring onions and peas. Make sure soil in vegetable patches is well prepared by weeding and composting.
I’m also sowing vegetable seeds in to trays, ready for larger pots. This year I’m growing tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillis, salad leaves, brussels sprouts, calabrese, aubergines and swiss chard. They’re germinating in my greenhouse currently, and I can’t wait to see the seedlings pop up.
Seed packets will often tell you to cover certain seeds with plastic prior to germination. I find that clingfilm works just as well as those plastic propagators you can buy. Another option is half of a plastic drinks bottle placed over the top.
Don’t neglect any fruit trees you may have at this time of year. April is a good time to feed them, whether they are planted out or in pots.
I have a columnar apple tree in a pot which I was lucky enough to win in a competition. I hope to see some really good growth this year.
Remember to be frost-aware in April, as there’s still a chance of frost. Also, ensure your growing seedlings have plenty of room by thinning out when necessary.
Houseplants also start to need more water from now on so keep them on your radar. And don’t forget to keep feeding the birds!
I hope these tips help with your planting this year. Let me know how your garden is getting on, and what you’re growing this year.
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