In April, things really get going in the garden! Each day you'll begin to notice more buds and sprouts, as spring blossom covers the branches of Magnolia, Cherry, Hawthorn and Goat Willow, just to name a few!
In the garden this month, it's time to plant one of our favourites, Dahlias! Other garden tasks for April include potting, planting shrubs and prepping the lawn and greenhouse.
Caring for Bulbs in April
- Remove dead flower heads from bulbs and feed with a tomato liquid feed to build up the bulbs' strength for next year. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to cut the leaves off; bulbs need 12 weeks after flowering to “fatten up” for next year.
- Lift, divide and replant clumps of overcrowded bulbs. Try to avoid damaging the roots as much as you can.
- Dormant Dahlia tubers can be planted out now. If they have soft shoots on top, they will need frost protection.
Time to plant in pots and borders
- In April, it's time to plant up pots and containers. Pansies (Viola spp.) look great but may not do well as summer bedding varieties — violas and pansies like it cool.
- Some summer bedding plants are much tougher than others and can be planted early. Antirrhinums, stocks, sweet Williams, forget me note and Bellis can take some frost if hardened off properly.
- Mulch winter-flowering heathers with ericaceous compost (which has a low pH). After flowering, trim the dead heads off with shears. This will keep the plants compact.
In the Greenhouse
- You can now remove the bubble polythene double glazing from your greenhouse, clean the glass and check that the ventilators work. Get ready to apply a coat of greenhouse shading to the outside to keep the temperature under control.
- Consider buying a cold frame to ease the strain on space in your greenhouse at this time of year. This is ideal for hardening plants off before planting them outside.
- You can sow new lawns now, and you can patch up thin ones with more seed. Be prepared to take time preparing a good seedbed; it pays in the long run. Sow hard wearing rye, grass-based mixtures for lawns used by children and pets and fescue and bent grass-based mixes for the best looking lawn. Buy and lay turf if you are in a hurry to get a quick result.
Caring for Trees and Shrubs in April
- Plant frost-tender shrubs such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, Santolina, Osteospermum and Hebe now. They will be well established by autumn and overwinter so much better when spring planted.
Browse tools on Candide to get stuck in with garden maintenance this month!
Other bits and pieces to do this month:
Keep an eye on the weather forecast for frost
- When frost is forcasted, use lightweight horticultural fleece to wrap and protect tender shoots.
- Plants that may be hit by spring frosts include Pieris, Japanese Maples, Camellias, Magnolias, Hydrangeas, bedding plants, lettuce, potatoes and French and runner beans.
Caring for exotic garden plants
- Now the weather is warming up, you can remove winter protection from tender and exotic plants such as bananas, ginger and tree ferns.
Pond care and bog plants
- Add a net filled with clean barley straw to ponds where the water has become green. This usually does the trick to restore the imbalance of nutrients that fill the water in the spring.
- Begin to clean out pond filters regularly.
- Divide over-crowded aquatic plants. Replant the youngest sections in plastic net pots filled with peat-free compost and lined with a hessian liner. They will quickly recover and establish themselves again.
Soils, mulching and weed control
- When the soil surface is dry, hoe it with a Dutch (push) hoe to kill off any small germinating weeds that will be appearing this month.
- Pull up weeds that begin to sprout between paving slaps. Or pour over boiling water left over from the kettle or cooking, which also serve as good weed control. Make sure the boiling water is poured directly over the plants you want to target.
The indoor garden
- If you've got seedlings and other young plants on windowsills waiting to go outside, you should turn them around at least once a day. Regular rotation will aid strong, equal growth and avoid weak stems.
- You can now step up the frequency of watering and liquid feeding. Never be afraid to knock the pot off to see just how dry the compost is before routinely watering.
Gardening with wildlife and pets
- If cats are coming into your garden to use your newly tilled soil as a toilet, try a sonic pest control system to keep them out. It's harmless but emits a frequency that we can't hear, but cats dislike.
- Don’t stop feeding birds now that spring is here. They have young to feed and are under the greatest pressure now. They will really benefit from your help! Birds are also insectivores, so you'll benefit from keeping them in your garden to help you keep insect numbers at bay.
- If you're suffering from pest infestations, natural predators can be used to combat pests. You can order them online and from retailers and have them sent to your door. These predators are very host-specific but have exacting temperature and moisture conditions for them to be most effective. For this reason, ensure instructions are read carefully before purchasing.