IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH: APRIL
Sowings are underway, there are new pot and border schemes to plant and following the clocks ‘springing forward’ longer daylight hours in which to enjoy it. There are plenty of reasons to get your gardening gloves on this month
Horticultural Director at Dobbies Garden Centres, Marcus Eyles, shares inspiration and ideas of what to do in the garden in April
Refresh your tubs and baskets, pulling up any tired winter bedding plants that have come to an end, replacing with a cheerful display of colourful spring bedding plants such as Pansies, Violas, Bellis and Polyanthus.
- Plant new cottage garden plants, as these will grow quickly in warming soils. Plant in groups of three plants to make more impact from their foliage and flower.
- Put plant supports in place around herbaceous plants that are bursting into growth. By doing so early, the overall look is more natural and any plant damage avoided.
- Tie in stems of climbing roses and ramblers, positioning stems near to horizontal to encourage lots of flowers along their length. Give them a good feed and mulch well for the season ahead.
- Prune summer flowering shrubs, such as Buddleia or Lavatera and plants such as Lavenders can be trimmed back to prevent them getting leggy and woody. Lightly cut back to just above fresh new shoots.
- Weeds will be starting to appear in beds and borders with the warming temperatures. The easiest way to control them is to hoe them off, applying a thick layer of mulch over the surface to help keep any further weeds at bay. Mulching with organic matter such as farmyard manure also locks in moisture and over time helps to improve the soil, whilst also giving plants a well-needed boost.
- There’s still time to plant summer flowering bulbs, such as Dahlias, Lilies and Gladiolus. Plant now to prepare for a colourful summer garden filled with flowers and fragrance.
- Scatter easy to grow Wildflower mixes around your garden for a meadow feel and to encourage wildlife.
- Plant new container grown hedges, trees and shrubs to add structural elements to your garden.
- If you have been raising seedlings in the greenhouse, continue to prick out and pot on before they get too large. Ideally this should be done when the first pair of true leaves unfurl.
- Scarify lawns with a wire-tine rake to remove old thatch and debris from the winter, starving the lawn of light and air.
- Sow new lawns or repair bare patches from April if weather allows, on ground that has been pre-prepared, levelled and firmed. If you are laying new turf, leave undisturbed for a few weeks to allow time for new roots to establish.
- After a spell of dry weather, get the lawnmower out and cut your grass for the first time this year. Cut grass with the lawn mower blades set high for the first few times, then use a good lawn feed to help your lawn look its best.
- Tidy lawn edges using a half-moon edging iron and lawn edging shears.
Fruit & vegetables
- Many vegetables can be direct sown now, from carrots to parsnips, spinach to peas. If you are short on space, containers can be used for many varieties. Raised beds are another alternative to grow small plots of vegetables, if current soil conditions aren’t ideal. They also mean less bending and kneeling, and soil tends to be warmer, meaning a longer growing season.
- Continue to plant soft fruit now, such as Rhubarb, Raspberries, Blackcurrants and Blueberries.
- Protect blossom of Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines from any late frosts.
- Plant out Strawberry plants into ground enriched with manure. Cover with cloches to encourage an early crop.
- Prepare vegetable beds for spring sowings by removing weeds and forking plenty of garden compost or manure. To help the soil to warm up quicker, consider covering prepared beds with sheets until you are ready to plant. This will also help to keep the soil drier, for easier seed sowing.
- If not done so already, plant your ‘chitted’ early potatoes in the ground or potato bags.
- Other vegetables such as cucumbers and courgettes can be sown under glass now ready for planting in May.
It is a great time to install a water butt to harvest the rainwater from your roof, a great investment for the season ahead. Most plants prefer rainwater so collect it if you can and make your plants really happy.
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