April is the time of year to start getting your garden summer-ready. As the weather starts to get warmer and the first flowers start to bloom, now’s the perfect time to pull on your gardening gloves and start sowing the seeds (quite literally) for a sensational seasonal display. If you need some tips to get started, you’re in the right place.
April is the month to get serious with the clippers. Before heading into the warmer days of summer, prepare the garden by chopping off the heads of any early bloomers like daffodils, pansies, and violas. By now, their sprightly blooms are probably looking a little faded: a little dead-heading will make sure they don’t end up bringing down the tone of the garden as other flowers start to bloom. If the flowers are annuals, be sure to leave the foliage intact so they come back fighting next spring.
Begin the Prep Work
Providing the ground isn’t still waterlogged, now’s the time to start the groundwork in preparation for planting your flower beds. Add 2 inches of compost or manure to your beds to make sure they’re ready and waiting for their new additions.
Start Your Hanging Baskets
If you’re a fan of hanging baskets, start planting them this month so they’re all set to dazzle by summer. Depending on where you live, you might want to grow them on in the greenhouse until you’ve seen the very last of the winter frosts.
Fertilize the Lawn
If winter’s left your lawn looking in less than peak condition, take the time now to give it a pre-summer shakeup with some high-nitrogen fertilizer. Any bare patches should soon fill in.
If you’re hoping for a good crop of summer fruits this year, get those strawberries in the ground now. Before planting, fertilize the soil with some well-rotted manure to give them the best possible start. If you live in cooler climes, you might want to consider covering the planted beds in case of any late frosts.
Active Pest Control
Spring is the time slugs and snails wake up from their winter snooze and start to invade in force. Watch out for any pesky critters hoping to make a meal out of your newly planted flower beds, and take some preventive measures before it’s too late. Rather than resorting to any toxic pest control products, check out some of the more environmentally friendly methods out there: sites like Green Living Tips, have a wealth of information on how to control slug populations without resorting to chemicals.
Start Planting Summer Bulbs
If you’re hoping for a gorgeous floral display this year, start getting those summer flowering bulbs planted now. Plant in well-drained, fertilized soil and be sure to check where in the garden they’ll benefit from the most sun.
Spring Clean your Greenhouse
Your house isn’t the only thing that’s likely to benefit from a top-to-toe clean. April is the perfect month to give your greenhouse a good spring clean. As Thompson- Morgan recommends, scrub it thoroughly with hot, soapy water, and give the floor a thorough sweep while you’re at it. Not only will a spring clean help the greenhouse look better and let in more sunshine, it’ll also do wonders at eliminating any lurking pests or plant diseases.
Feed the Flowers
Invest in a bag of slow-release fertilizer and lightly dig it into the soil surrounding trees, shrubs, and hedges. While most plants will benefit from the extra boost it gives, you’ll be amazed at how much better your roses, in particular, will do after a good feed.
Check the Trees
Spring is the time that everything in the garden experiences a growth spurt, and your trees are no exception. If you’ve used tree ties to improve stability, give them a quick once over to make sure they aren’t so tightly tied as to cut into the trunk or strangle growth.
Plant the Vegetable Garden
April isn’t just the month to get serious about your flower beds. If you prefer the carrot to the geranium, now’s the time to start prepping your vegetable garden. Take Veggie Gardener’s advice and start by assessing the condition of your vegetable garden (you might be shocked at the extent winter can ravage it). Check for any signs of damage or rotting to the wooden structures so you can make the necessary repairs. If there are any dead plants, left over mulch, or general waste cluttering the space, grab a trash can and clean it out. If you had any cases of blight or disease last year, be sure to remove any rogue seedlings pushing their way through (they might look very nice now, but if they’re still carrying the disease, they risk bringing this year’s crop to its knees). Once the space has been fully prepped (and providing there’s no lingering chill in the air), you can start to sow. Hardier vegetables like carrots, spinach, parsnips, swede, rocket, runner beans, and broad beans can be sowed directly into the vegetable bed, while the likes of kale, leeks, cauliflower, mangetout, squash, and pumpkins should be started off in the greenhouse.
Prune Rose Bushes
If you’re lucky enough to have a few rose bushes, take the opportunity to prune them back now before their blooms start to break. As well as cutting back the dead, woody stalks, prune any spindly canes (don’t feel guilty about this: if the canes are thinner than a pencil, they’re unlikely to produce any blooms) or ones that have broken past the preferred growing area. Other plants that may need a prune include the hydrangea (cut around a third off the woody growth to make room for new growth), lavender, coronus, and early flowering heather.
April is the time to give your perennials a little extra support. If you leave staking too late, you might find it a challenge to place the stakes in or around the plant without causing damage to the new growth.