April is here and spring is in the air! As the garden starts to wake up after a long winter, it’s time to get outdoors and get ready for another great year of growing. Here are our top 15 gardening tips for April.
1. Get your vegetable beds ready for another season of planting by clearing them of weeds and mulching with well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost. This will improve drainage in wet weather and help soils retain moisture in droughts.
2. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertiliser. Roses in particular will appreciate a dose of fertiliser as they come back into new growth.
3. Aerate lawns and feed them with a high-nitrogen feed. Sow lawn seed to fix any bare patches.
4. Put in supports for tall perennials that tend to flop, such as asters, delphiniums and sanguisorba. This is easier to do now while the plants are still small and there is space to move around them.
5. Lift and divide ornamental grasses like miscanthus, as well as summer-flowering perennials such as daylilies and hostas.
6. Spring is traditionally a good time to plant new perennials and shrubs, allowing them to settle in before the heat of summer. If the spring weather is dry, remember to water new plantings regularly.
7. Prune penstemons once the frosts have passed, cutting back to just above the lowest new shoots, or to growth at the base of the plant if there are no shoots on the old stems.
8. Give lavender a light trim, taking care not to cut back into old wood.
9. If you’re growing fuchsias from cuttings or sweet peas from seed, pinch out the growing tips of the seedlings to give you bushy plants that will produce masses of flowers.
10. Deadhead spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips once the flowers have faded, but leave the foliage to die back naturally. Don’t tie it up or plait it, as this stops the leaves making food to store in the bulbs for next year’s flowers.
11. Sow tomato seeds this month in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. April is also a good time to sow courgette and pumpkin seeds in small pots indoors.
12. Direct sow broad beans, carrots, beetroot and parsnips in the vegetable garden.
13. Direct sow hardy annuals like Nigella and poppies for great summer colour. You can also sow sweet pea seeds directly outdoors in April.
14. Plant second early and maincrop potatoes this month. Second early potatoes will grow well in large containers, but maincrops are best in the ground. You can also plant onion and shallot sets this month, netting the beds to stop pigeons pulling up the young seedlings.
15. Harvest the first asparagus shoots – they’re delicious steamed and served with butter!