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April already! As last year, this year has started at a gallop!
March brought us a touch of winter once again, but it was good to see the appearance of the daffodils and the blossom appearing on the trees once again!
March was also a busy month in the garden, but April is the key time in setting up our gardening year, so let’s get to it!
April or September are the ideal times for starting a new lawn or renovating established ones.
Sowing new lawns or ‘over-sowing’ existing ones to improve the ‘sward’, coincides with rising spring temperatures to improve germination and subsequent results.
Choose your lawn seed according to your requirement i.e. mixtures containing thinner leaved cultivars are ideal for ornamental front lawns whilst those with a higher proportion of thicker leaves like ‘ryegrasses’ are ideal for back lawns subject to greater wear and tear.
You can even purchase mixtures designed specifically for use in shady areas!
Many of us might choose to use turves for quicker results and these are available using the types of mixtures detailed above.
As temperatures rise, you will be mowing more often and as the month moves on you can lower the blades on your lawn mower.
Now’s the time to apply a lawn fertiliser. Use a slow-release one and it will provide all your lawn’s needs throughout the summer. Should you wish to apply a lawn weedkiller, then do it before applying lawn food.
Hopefully, you’ve still got some space in the greenhouse or conservatory. There is still time to sow some of the quicker-growing ‘half-hardy’ annuals like cosmos and marigolds.
You may need to be ‘pricking out’ (transplanting) earlier sown seedlings into pots or trays to give them more room to grow.
Some of your earliest sowings may be ready for ‘hardening off’ i.e. standing them out to acclimatise to outside conditions. But be prepared to take back in if frost threatens!
No greenhouse? No worries, you can be sowing ‘hardy annuals’ like clarkia, godetia, nasturtiums and sunflowers, outside when conditions allow.
Dahlia Tubers & Gladioli Corms
Towards the end of the month you can be planting dahlia tubers and gladioli corms. Should you have a light, sandy soil, you are best to plant a little deeper than that recommended on the label because as the root grow, they could lift the plants out of the soil.
For the herbaceous border, there are lots of new perennial plants in the catalogues and garden centres to tempt you and there is still time to lift and separate other perennials if they have become overcrowded.
Don’t neglect your spring flowering bulbs! Hopefully, they have performed well for you. Remove faded flower stems, but leave the leaves to supply sustenance to the bulbs and build them up for next year.
Its said that March is a busy time in the garden, but it’s got nothing on April with both indoor and outdoor sowings to be made!
Let’s start indoors, be it greenhouse, conservatory or even the kitchen window sill!
Perhaps you’ve sown your early tomatoes and peppers? If so, you will need to transplant them into pots or trays. Now though it’s time for late greenhouse or outdoor varieties.
Outside, you can really get busy both with raised beds and garden soil. Rake the soil to a fine tilth incorporating a vegetable fertilizer and sow as recommended on the packet. Your choice of items has grown this month as peas, broad beans, carrots, radish, beetroot, lettuce, spring onions and parsnips may all be sown.
Time to ‘chit’ our second-early and main crop potatoes by standing them on end in a tray in a light position to encourage shoots ready for planting out.
It’s a bit late now to be planting ‘bare root’ bushes, but you can still buy container grown blackcurrant, gooseberry, strawberry plants etc. if you wish.
In frosty weather, protect the flowers of trees from damage if you can with horticultural fleece.
Towards the end of the month, if you have a heavy set, thin the small fruits of nectarines and peaches to ensure bigger fruit on maturity.
Complete the pruning of winter flowering shrubs like forsythia and berberis.
You can still plant container-grown shrubs throughout spring and summer.
Maintain your garden hygiene inside or out. It’s important to keep on top of your weeding too at this time.
Should you have a garden pool, make sure you’ve carried out your pump maintenance. Remember too to plant aquatics if required and thin foliage in sunken baskets.