April Gardening Tips 2023
Well, March certainly didn’t want to let go of winter this year. We have gardening projects we have been itching to get on with but have been thwarted by the wet and cold. Even pruning the roses took days rather than hours because of rain interruptions and the fact that everything took longer due to dealing with wet stems and foliage. On the bright side the daffodil flowers have lasted really well and we have tulips still to burst into flower. In addition there are camellias, magnolias and cherry blossom all doing their utmost to cheer the soul. Alpines are looking particularly attractive right now. I am especially fond of pretty saxifrage (London Pride) and purple aubretia. We are certainly looking forward to a colourful Easter.
Fingers crossed that April will be a better gardening month. The most gorgeous plants are coming into garden centres right now. The soil is still damp, so this is a great time to plant shrubs, trees, roses, climbers and perennial, or cottage garden plants. Dig a good-sized hole. Add some fertilizer and compost to the bottom. Place your plant in the hole. Back fill with some more compost and garden soil, firm lightly and water in well. Keep newly planted subjects well-watered throughout the first growing season, and beyond if the weather is dry.
Summer flowering bulbs can be planted in April for wonderful colour later in the summer. They are so easy to pop in the ground and great for filling gaps in the border. From fragrant lilies, glamorous gladioli, sturdy dahlias, elegant agapanthus to retro begonias, there are summer flowering bulbs to suit every taste.
Of course, spring planting isn’t confined to ornamental subjects. With rising prices and well publicised shortages, there has never been a better time to grow your own. Sow seed (or plant young plants) in succession for the longest possible cropping season, especially for beans, salad crops and peas. Sow tomatoes in pots in the greenhouse or on a windowsill. There is still time to plant potatoes. Earth them up as soon as the shoots emerge. This helps the tubers to form deep enough that they don’t turn green. My only real tip for vegetable growing is to grow vegetables you really like to eat and add in something new to try too.
In terms of garden maintenance, tie in in the new shoots of roses and clematis while they are still soft and bendy enough to do so. This will promote an even spread of foliage and flowers. Otherwise, you can end up with a mass of intertwined stems. Beware, the new shoots are quite fragile and liable to break.
Tidy up the lawn and borders, removing any twigs and leaves that have gathered there. Mulch the borders with home-made compost, well-rotted manure or bark to help with weed control and water retention. It is amazing how much better the borders will look straight away.
Once the earliest spring flowers start to fade prune ribes, forsythia and chaenomeles (Japanese Quince). Dead head faded daffodils, but do not cut the foliage back just yet because the bulbs need this to photosynthesise to feed the bulb beneath the soil and promote great flowers again next year. Applying a general fertiliser around the clumps will also benefit the plants for next year.
Lawn care may not be quite as much fun as planting and pruning but it makes a big difference. Having cleared your lawn of larger debris, a good rake will ‘scarify’ the lawn and remove dead grass, smaller twigs and general detritus. Where the lawn has become compacted, aerate with a hollow tine fork or aerator. This will allow air and water to penetrate to the roots. You can also apply a lawn fertiliser to give the grass a real boost and help it withstand all the use it will get over the summer as well as dryer spells. This is also an ideal month to sow a new lawn or to re-seed areas that have become worn.
I hope you enjoy all the spring colour and the birdsong that makes April one of the most exciting months in the garden. And there is still the promise of so much more to come.
I hope you have a very lovely April.