This week I've got spring tips for bulbs, pots, borders, greenhouses, lawns, hedges, trees, shrubs, ponds, roses and more.
If you want some more help on what to do in your garden this month, I'll be doing a live webinar on Tuesday the 7th of April! I'll be talking though my tips, and answering live Q and A's. Sign up here.
- Remove dead flower heads from bulbs and feed with a tomato liquid feed to build up the strength of the bulbs 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.
Pots and borders
- Plant up pots and containers. Violas and Pansies 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.
- 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 prior to planting them outside.
Need to ask a question? Download the Candide app, to ask the community (including Alan!) for their gardening and plant advice
Lawns, hedges, paths and drives
- New lawns can be sown now, and thin ones can be patched up 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.
- Apply lawn weed killers, such as Weedol Lawn Weedkiller (formerly Verdone), this month and next for best effect.
Trees, shrubs, conifers, roses, etc
- 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.
Bits and pieces
- Use lightweight horticultural fleece handy to protect tender shoots if frost is forecast. Plants that may be hit by spring frosts include Pieris, Japanese Maples, Camellias, Magnolias, Hydrangeas, bedding plants, lettuce, potatoes and French and runner beans.
- Remove winter protection from tender and exotic plants such as bananas, ginger and tree ferns.
Ponds 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.
- Regularly clean out pond filters.
- 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 again.
Soils, mulching, weed control, etc
- 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.
- Apply Weedol Pathclear weedkiller to paths and drives. Apply very evenly and avoid run-off to surrounding borders and lawns.
The indoor garden
- If you've got seedlings and other young plants on windowsills waiting to go outside do remember to turn them around at least once a day. They will grow towards the brighter light coming through the glass and become weak and floppy if you don't rotate them.
- 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 greatest pressure now. They will really benefit from your help!
- Use natural predators 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 that make them more effective.