Gardening Tips for April
Bulbs, flowers and containers
Protect new spring shoots from frosts and slugs…
Split clumps of snowdrops by digging them up, gently pulling them apart into bunches of 3 or more bulbs and replanting in dug over soil with some bonemeal incorporated into it.
Make sure you work quickly so the bulbs don’t have a chance to dry out and water in if the soil is at all dry.
Sprinkle general purpose fertiliser on beds and borders and erect supports for herbaceous plants such as peonies, delphiniums and oriental poppies that would otherwise flop.
Carry on lifting and dividing overgrown clumps of perennials and split polyanthus plants once they have finished flowering.
Plant hardier summer bulbs and unsprouted dahlia tubers (at least 4 inches deep in good, rich soil).
Sow hardy annuals such as nasturtium and calendula in drifts – clashing colours just don’t matter in a garden, but remember to plant taller plants behind shorter ones.
Wait a while to plant cornflowers and larkspurs until the soil is warmer.
Sow sweet peas outdoors (soak the seeds overnight to improve germination) and plant out those raised under cover.
Feed your pots and containers and brighten them up with cheery primroses, violas, pots of spring bulbs and spring heathers. Packing them densely in single colours makes for a stunning display – or try combinations like cream and regal purple for a striking impact.
If the weather really does turn dry, remember pots and containers will need watering, especially if they are near a wall and in a sheltered position. Take care not to overwater.
General tasks and garden maintenance April
Beware late frosts and keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if frost is forecast.
Don’t be tempted to put out tender bedding until much later on in the month and even then be prepared to cover it if necessary.
Deadhead daffodils and narcissi, give them a liquid feed or sprinkling of bonemeal and then let them die down. Don’t cut off the leaves as they are necessary to replenish the bulb for next year. Keep deadheading spring bedding to keep it looking neat and encourage new flowers.
Continue with the spring cleaning. Hoe your borders, getting rid of weeds before they take hold – annual weeds such as bitter cress and groundsel are enough of a nightmare without allowing them to go forth and multiply by seeding. If it’s dry, attack ground elder and the like with systemic weed killer painted onto the leaves.
Mulch away while you can still see what you are doing and before the herbaceous growth really takes off.
Now the soil is warming up and things are starting to grow, add general purpose fertiliser before covering with mulch especially in borders, the fruit and vegetable patch and containers.
If you have already mulched, draw it back (if possible), tease the soil a little, add fertiliser and replace the mulch.
Carry on removing moss and weeds from paths, terraces and drives.
Make new beds and borders – mark the shape with sand trickled from a bottle, remove the top layer of growing vegetation and dig the ground over, incorporating as much organic matter as possible