At last it’s warming up and the garden is greening up nicely as fresh new shoots and leaves appear. It’s time to sow…Hardy Annuals, Half Hardy Annuals, Herbs and Vegetables can all be sown in April.
April is great for gardeners. It’s warmer, sunnier and less windy than it has been for the past five months. Wherever you are in the UK you can expect around 180 hours of sunshine in April. April showers and warmer temperatures encourage a rush of growth. But watch out! Sunny clear days may be followed by cold frosty nights so any tender plants will need protection until after the last frosts in May.
April is one of the busiest months in the garden. We are still busy growing plants indoors and at last it’s warm enough to start sowing seeds outdoors. There are so many gardening tasks that can be carried out from mowing to sowing. Sometimes that TO DO list can seem endless and that can feel overwhelming. Where to start? Gardening is supposed to be fun… right?
I think two or three tasks per week are enough for me and you to get on top of our gardens this month!
Here are my top suggestions for activities that will make a real difference to your garden this April.
- Mow the lawn once each week starting with the blades at the highest setting.
- Tidy the borders cutting back winter flowering shrubs and composting any remaining grasses, seed heads and stalks from last year. Remove weeds as you go. It’s best to dig out perennial weeds removing all the roots but you can hoe annual weeds on a dry day for best results.
- Divide well established clumps of perennials and clump forming grasses such as Stipa gigantea. Discard the old woody middle and replant the fresh young sections then set up sturdy supports for your tall flowering plants.
- Prune late flowering Clematis (Viticella) cutting plants back to about 45cm/18 inches tall. Tie in the new shoots of climbing plants to their support. Prune Lavender hedges taking care not to cut into the old wood.
- When your borders are tidy and planted up add a mulch of organic material around the plants. This could be your own garden compost and leaf mould. Alternatively you can buy in well rotted manure or spent mushroom compost. Soft fruit, perennials, shrubs, climbers… in fact most garden plants benefit from a mulch which helps to retain moisture.
- Prepare a border by forking over then raking to break up clods to make a seed bed for flowers, vegetables or herbs. Direct sow Hardy Annuals such as Poppies, Marigolds, Nigella, Cornflowers and Wildflowers to encourage pollinating insects.
- Sow Vegetables (Parsnips, Broad Bean, Spinach, Carrots, Peas, Beetroot and Salad) and Herbs (Dill, Basil, Chives and Coriander ) directly where you want them to grow.
- Sow large leaved vegetables such as Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Corgettes in the greenhouse. Sow Half Hardy Annuals such as Cosmos, Zinnias, Snapdragons and Rudbeckias in modules indoors at the beginning of the month and outdoors at the end of April in mild areas.
- At the end of April plant out autumn sown Sweet Peas and sow a fresh batch of Sweet Peas seeds for flowers in late summer and autumn.
- Plant new trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials. Now is also a good time to move any evergreen shrubs you feel are in the wrong place. Keep them well watered until they are established.
- Pot up Dahlia tubers and plant summer flowering bulbs such as Lilies in your borders or in containers. Plant Hyacinth bulbs in pots that have finished flowering around the base of an established deciduous shrub such as Lilac or Elder.
- Provide fresh water each day to encourage wildlife such as birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads into your garden. They will reward you by eating garden pests such as slugs, snails and aphids which love to feed on the fresh new growth of your plants.
What will you be doing in your garden this month? I would love to know. Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂