April - April is one of the busiest months in the garden. Outdoor sowing and planting can begin in earnest but don’t forget to cover up delicate plants if frost is forecast.
- Sow sweet peas in the ground at the bottom of a support
- Plant out at the end of March and during April gladioli in groups of single varieties
- Keep large sheets of fleece handy to throw over delicate plants at nights if frost is forecast
- Trim faded blooms from winter flowering heathers and early daffodils
- Sprinkle rose fertiliser around roses and other flowering shrubs
- Hand-weed rock gardens and alpine beds. Replenish gravel and grit to freshen the display
Tip: Tired bulbs
If established clumps of daffodils or other bulbs have not performed quite as well as usual they may have exhausted the available nutrients and outgrown the site. Water them with a liquid food every month and allow them to die down naturally. Mark the clumps with a label to remind you to lift and move them to a new site later in the summer.
- Sow bedding plants, hardy annuals and herb seeds
- Take chrysanthemum and dahlia cuttings
- Ventilate the greenhouse on hot days, but close vents again in the evening
- Repot established house plants that have outgrown their pots and start feeding weekly from March to October
- Look out for signs of pests, such as whitefly, red spider mite, and greenfly and treat immediately
- Pot up begonias, gloxinias and cannas as they develop
Tip: Grow your own summer crops
Warm, bright conditions in March and April ad perfect for growing a variety of crops in heated propagators. Along with old favourites like tomatoes, why not try cucumbers, aubergines, okra, chillies or courgettes?
Fruit and vegetables
- Look out for pests and diseases on fruit trees. Think about spraying for severe problems
- Prune fig trees
- Choose flowers such as limnanthes to grow among crops, to attract hoverflies
- Help pollination by dabbing pollen from flower to flower with a paintbrush, pastry brush or feather!
- Pull succulent pink rhubarb stems
- Crops to sew outside now include carrots, broad beans, peas, beetroot, radishes, lettuces, onions, parsnips, sprouts and cabbages
- For better fruiting feed fruit trees and bushes with granular feed such as sulphate of potash
Tip: Sprout your potatoes
Seed potatoes should be laid out in trays in plenty of light to develop shoots (this is called chitting). Get your early and salad potatoes ready now and main crop following later in the month. Once sprouted, plant out in rows or grow in pots.
Around the garden
- Wash out the pond pump and filter ready for the new season. At the same time replace the UV bulb if you have an UV filter.
- Dig out emerging weeds
- Place cloches on soil to warm it for early sowings
- Check that climbing plants on walls and buildings aren’t obstructing gutters; trim them away from windows and door and ensure they are securely tied up
- Make sure your lawnmower is working; if not book it in for a service
- Put up extra bird boxes
- Sow new lawns or repair bare patches
- Divide bamboos and water lilies
- Keep weeds under control
Tip: Sharpen up for spring
Sharp garden instruments make time in the garden far easier. So start the year as you mean to go on and sharpen secateurs, knives and pruning equipment. There are a number of tools available to assist you such as a sharpening steel or an oil stone.