What to do in the Garden in April

Plant trees and shrubs

It’s best to plant trees and shrubs either just as they begin dormancy in the autumn or just as they're coming out of dormancy in the spring. They can be planted any time in between but it's often difficult if the ground is frozen.

 

How to plant trees and shrubs:

  1. 1. Dig a hole in the desired location, large enough to fit all of the roots without bending or breaking them and deep enough to fit the entire root ball so that the base of the trunk is level with the soil surface.
  2. 2. Loosen the edges and base of the hole with a fork to make it easy for the roots to settle in.
  3. 3. Throw a handful of granular fertiliser into the hole and mix with compost. If the granular fertiliser comes into contact with the roots it can damage them so make sure it's well mixed in to the bottom of the hole.
  4. 4. Position the tree or shrub in the hole and decide which way you would like it to face. E.g. if it has a large branch on one side you would want that facing into the garden rather than into a wall or fence.
  5. 5. Fill the hole back in with the displaced soil and firm down.
  6. 6. Apply a generous amount of water to settle the roots.

 

gardening tips
If the root ball of the tree is tightly bound it needs to be loosened in order to form a healthy root system. Pull as many of the fibrous roots out as possible with your hands to give them a good chance of settling into the soil and supporting the tree properly.

 

Remove weeds from the lawn

Any tap-rooted weeds, such as dandelions, will start to appear in April. It’s best to keep on top of them so now’s a good time to start. There are a number of different methods for doing this:

  1. Hand fork: You can dig a weed out with a hand fork although doing so can leave the lawn looking a bit pot-holed.
  2. Bulb planter: Your bulb planter can have a dual purpose! Position it over the offending weed and remove the entire core of soil. The soil can then be removed from the roots and put back in the hole.
  3. Speedy Weedy: Our Speedy Weedy is specially designed to remove tap-rooted weeds from the lawn. Push the three prongs into the ground around the weed, twist and pull and the weed is out!

gardening tips
After removing weeds from the lawn you may end up with a few holes. Fill them with sand instead of soil, this will improve drainage in the lawn.




Remove dead wood from trees and shrubs

This job is typically done in the middle of winter, however with some shrubs, such as Forsythia, Philadelphus and Symphoricarpus, it’s difficult to tell which stems are dead until the live wood starts to grow new leaves. That is why now is a good time to go around all of your shrubs and make sure you didn’t miss any!


Check plant supports

In the spring when your plants start growing, always monitor how they’re getting on. If any stems or branches are growing astray tie them back in or add further support if necessary.

 

Dead-head spring bedding

By dead-heading bedding plants you will increase the flowering time and the amount of flowers per plant. Instead of the plant using its energy to produce a seed head it will use its energy to grow new flowers instead, giving you a longer lasting display!

 

Pinch out summer flowering bedding plants

When you receive plug plants in the post they can often appear to be a bit leggy. There's nothing to worry about, they will bush out naturally as soon as they’re planted out, but to help them along in the mean-time you can pinch them out. It’s easy to do, simply pinch off the growing tip above a lower down node (where the plant branches out) about half way up the stem. This can be done with your thumb and forefinger.

 

Hoe and weed beds and borders

Weeds will really have started getting going by now and it’s best to keep on top of it before they take over. Depending on how many weeds you have growing in your garden they can be pulled out by hand or hoed away. Spring weeds can grow in thick patches and can cover an entire bed, the easiest way to remove them is by hoeing and then raking them off.


Don’t put weeds on your compost heap! If the seeds drop into your compost they'll cause no end of weed problems wherever you use it.



Grow-on small and medium sized plug plants

Trays of small and medium sized plug plants plug plants are delivered from early April to early May. When they arrive, sit them in a tray of water and leave them to ‘rest’ for 24 hours.

To pot them up: Fill 6cm or 9cm pots with multipurpose compost and tap down to compress. Make a hole in the surface of the compost ready for your plug. With a pencil or stainless steel widger, push the plug out of the tray from underneath and place in the pot. Firm the compost down around the plug and water in. Repeat this process for all of the plugs in your tray. The plugs can remain in their pots until the end of May when they can be planted into their growing position.

Removing plug plants from a tray: If you’re having difficulty removing your plugs from their tray without the compost falling apart, leave them in the tray to grow on for few more days to grow a more substantial root system. When they’re ready to be removed leave them without water until they’re almost dry and you’ll find they come out a lot easier.

Plant up hanging baskets

Planting up your hanging baskets early gives them time to start looking good before you hang them outside. Once you have created your hanging baskets keep them outside in a sheltered place with polythene over the top or in a cold-frame if you have one.


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