April Gardening

Gardeners' World

In April the weather can still remain unpredictable and we can have anything from a heatwave to ground frosts and sleet; be prepared. Now is the time to really start off new plants and seedlings, watch trees and shrubs bursting back into life.

Sowing from seed can be time-consuming and tricky but also very rewarding. If this sounds a bit daunting – the web and garden centres have a great choice of plug plants for bedding and vegetables. These small plants benefit from a frost free environment and as much all round light as you can give them; greenhouse, conservatory, window sill or porch.

Take care with watering, too much at the early stages and the small plants could rot. It is best to increase watering slowly as the plant grows. When the plug plants arrive, they are often in small thumb sized pots and really need to be potting on immediately. Take care to pot them up just one size as it will do better. Tip - some garden centres have a box outside with unwanted pots – have a look.

If you are going to plant the plugs in containers or hanging baskets, it’s a good idea to plant them in the container and grow on in the greenhouse until ready to plant out. This will help the plants establish a good root system in the container before placing outside. When growing bedding plants nip out the growing points to produce a bushier plant, otherwise some plants, particularly petunia, fuchsia, verbena will grow leggy later in the season. The rule of thumb is do not plant out bedding plants until the risk of frost has passed; this is likely to be towards the end of May. You can plant out earlier, but monitor the weather and if frost is forecast, you will need to protect with a cloche or fleece.

Lawn care If you haven’t managed an initial cut yet try and get on to it sooner rather than later as April can be a warmer wet month which will speed growth but makes mowing difficult. Keep the mowing height on the high side until May unless you’re raking or scarifying and then you’ll need a fairly low cut.

Mow in the afternoon to allow the grass daytime drying time. Keep the cut on the high side until you get to a more frequent mowing pattern. Be careful with the turns as the ground can be soft. Thoroughly clean the mower – wet grass sticks under the mower. Make sure your mower blade is sharp.

Patches in lawns can appear for a number of reasons, and when they do, it is always advisable to repair them. Re-seeding, or turfing bare patches will prevent weeds germinating in the patches and of course it looks much better. This is the month to get your spring lawn feed into the lawn. The demands of the winter will have taken their toll and a spring feed is critical for a healthy lawn.

Alan Caswell

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