Things to do in the garden in April
“Sweet April showers do bring May Flowers” Thomas Tusser
THE April showers are inevitable, but hopefully the longer days will bring plenty of sunshine and as the earth starts to warm there will be plenty of opportunities to get outside into the garden and start sowing outdoors, just be careful of late frosts on tender shoots This is a good time to remove any frost damaged shoots from evergreens.
So what other jobs does April bring us? Well as the weather improves the weeds need to be kept under control, fruit blossoms may need protecting from any late frosts. Fig trees should be pruned and climbing and rambling roses will need to be tied in. Trees should be fed with a balanced fertiliser, eg blood, fish and bone, hoeing it into the soil around the roots. Also tree ties need to be checked so ensure there is room for growth without the ties digging in and causing damage.
Hardy annuals can be sown outside in April like Nasturtiums, Sunflowers, Snapdragons, Cosmos, Calendula, and half hardy annuals and be sown under cover. Herbs and wild flower seeds can also be planted outdoors and hungry shrubs and roses will need a good feed and a good mulching layer of 5-8cms of organic matter. This will aid water retention especially during dryer spells, reduce the need for weeding and improve the structure of the soil. Plants that really benefit from mulching include rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias as if roots become dry it can reduce flowering potential. Bamboos can be divided and for those with ponds waterlilies too.
Lavenders, curry plants (Helichrysum) and cotton lavender (Santolina) should be lightly cut back. Cut them just above the fresh new shoots. This stops them getting woody and too leggy.
New lawns can now be sown and repairs made to any bare patches. Apply a high nitrogen lawn fertiliser early April to encourage good growth and a weed killer if lawn weeds are a problem. Remember not to walk on newly sown lawns and do not mow until the lawn has reached 5-8cms and then only lightly.
With longer days and warmer weather a close eye needs to be kept for increasing pest and diseases. Look out for root rot causing die back on established trees and shrubs and check for damage, canker on deciduous trees and blight on box and holly. An eye needs to be kept out for early infestations of caterpillars and aphids if there are mild spells and newly planted shrubs and trees may need rabbit guards put in place. Protect Delphiniums, Hostas and other new shoots from slugs and snails and watch out for downy mildew and leaf spot on winter pansies.
Check that plants in pots and other containers don’t dry out and top them up with fresh compost removing old compost to a depth of a about 5cm if you can. Re-pot plants that look pot bound and a general clear up will help reduce the risks of pests and diseases.
Deadhead faded tulips and daffodils as well as pansies and primulas. Pansies will often carry on flowerings well into the spring and even early summer.
Sally's garden tips for April
Keep on top of weeding
Mulch and feed
Tie in climbing and rambling roses
Protect tender plants from late frosts
Sow hardy annuals, new lawns and repair matures lawns if necessary
Cut back lavenders and curry plants
Keep an eye on pests and diseases