Spring is properly here now and there is plenty going on in the garden. It’s the perfect time of the year for many jobs such as planting, sowing and lawn maintenance. So, here’s a few tasks to undertake now to ensure you have a blooming lovely summer.
Lawns are often looking patchy and bedraggled at this time of year. If yours is looking less than perfect, now is the perfect time to give it some TLC. Remove any build-up of dead grass and moss with a lawn rake. If you haven’t already done so, recut untidy edges with a lawn edging tool. Lastly, apply a spring lawn feed to encourage healthy growth.
If your lawn needs major renovations you can sow seed or lay turf at this time of year, too. All lawn care done now will pay dividends later in the year when you will be rewarded with a lush green lawn.
Taking the time to complete some general garden maintenance now will ensure your garden looks great in spring and summer.
Cut back dead foliage on perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth. Penstemons can be cut back to new growth. Trim winter-flowering heathers to prevent them from becoming straggly.
Deadhead tulips and daffodils as they finish flowering but leave the foliage intact as this will die back naturally and the plant will take the nutrients back into the bulb ready for next year. Deadhead winter flowering pansies, violas, primroses and polyanthus.
Keep on top of weeds now so that your growing plants get all the nutrients and light they need. If you haven’t already done so, mulch beds and borders to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the warmer months.
April is the perfect time to plant summer bulbs, divide perennials, plant new perennials and sow seeds. If you are planning major landscaping projects, such as new borders and beds, now is the ideal time, as your new plants will have time to get established before summer.
If you want summer flowering bulbs you can begin to plant them around mid-April when there is little chance of the ground freezing or becoming waterlogged. Alstroemeria, lilies, eucomis and gladioli will all add a lovely splash of colour. If you lifted dahlias last year to protect them from frost, they can be planted back into the ground now.
Plant perennials in the beds and borders now for colour later in summer. Consider penstemons, nepeta, alchemilla, hardy geraniums, scabious and campanula.
You can also sow many annual flowers this month. Try sunflowers, nasturtiums, snapdragon, alyssum, cosmos, calendula, poppies, nigella and marigolds. You can sow sweet peas in the garden now, too.
Later in the month, harden off indoor-grown seedlings when the weather is warm and still. Place them outside during the day and take them back in in the late afternoon. After a week or so they will have adapted to cooler conditions and be ready to plant outside once all chance of a frost is passed.
Now is a great time to sort out your pots and containers so that you have a vibrant colourful garden this summer.
If you have plants in pots all year round they will benefit from some attention as they begin to put on new growth. If the roots are filling the pots and coming out of the holes in the bottom, then the plant needs repotting into a larger pot. Otherwise, you can just remove the top couple of inches of soil and replace it with fresh.
It’s still a little early to plant out bedding, I would leave this until May, but it’s a good time to check pots for cracks, give them a good clean and make sure you have all the soil and compost you need for planting up containers and hanging baskets next month.
Give shrubs a boost now to ensure strong healthy growth in the months ahead. Scatter a slow-release shrub fertilizer or chicken manure pellets over the soil at their base. Feed roses now to ensure perfect blooms in summer. Either use a proprietary rose fertilizer or a 5cm mulch of well-rotted farmyard manure.
Prune forsythia shrubs after flowering to ensure a good display next year. Tie in new honeysuckle and clematis stems to train them along their supports.
Plant seeds of beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli in weed-free fine tilth now.
Plant strawberry plants or well-rooted strawberry runners into grow bags or pots and put them in a sunny sheltered spot outdoors.
Birds will continue to appreciate feeding at this time of year as they are busy raising their young. They need high protein foods now to ensure they raise healthy chicks. Good foods include black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds and good quality seed. Do not leave out loose peanuts as these can be a choking hazard for chicks.
Good hygiene is essential as, otherwise, you may do more harm than good. So clean bird feeders regularly and move them around to prevent disease.
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