Now that the clocks have changed, the days are longer and the sunshine is getting stronger. The result is that everything in the garden is beginning to grow fast. Lawns need to be cut every week in order to keep the grass under control. Trim around borders otherwise the grass will quickly grow into the flowerbeds. If this the first time the lawn has been cut this year, keep the initial cuts light otherwise it will not gain enough strength to survive periods of dryness later in the year.
This is the perfect month for sowing sweetcorn and runner beans within the greenhouse, as they will grow quickly ready for planting out after the final frosts. Cover with glass to prevent mice digging up the seeds before they have even had a chance to germinate. Sow some lettuce under cloches where it will germinate quickly. Cut and come again lettuce where you can cut the young leaves several times is a very useful option at this time of the year as it provides fresh produce within a two or three weeks.
Hoe regularly around shrubs and in flowerbeds as the warmer days also encourage weeds to grow. Dealing with them quickly as tiny shoots is much easier than having to dig them up later in the year. Add a thick layer of mulch wherever possible as this will conserve moisture in the soil for use by the plants throughout the summer. Hardy annuals can be planted outside, likewise onions, beetroot, carrots, peas, spinach and broad beans.
Although April is a busy month in the garden, remember to take time to enjoy the sight of the wonderful spring flowers – daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, flowering cherries, primulas and forsythia. It makes a really cheerful sight after the long months of winter, with the heavy rain and cold that has been so prominent this year.
Spring is definitely here with daffodils, primroses and forsythia bursting into colour, quickly followed by hyacinths, tulips and flowering cherries. Everywhere you look in the garden, leaves and flowers are appearing.
It also marks the start of a very busy period for gardeners. It is not just flowers that grow – so do the weeds. Flowerbeds will need regular weeding to avoid colonies of bitter cress, dandelions, thistles and nettles developing. A good selection of hand tools is ideal for delicate work around plants, but for larger areas especially in the vegetable garden, a Dutch hoe is the perfect answer. Used with a backwards forwards motion, it cuts and uproots weeds before they can establish strong roots.
As the days become longer and temperatures rise, lawns begin to grow again. The first few cuts of any lawn during spring should be kept light. Bear in mind that April can be a very changeable month. There can be periods of showers and heavy rain, but also long periods of dryness. If you cut the lawn too quickly and too low at this time of the year, it will struggle to survive periods of low rainfall and potential drought.
Continue sowing hardy annuals in the garden, along with onions, garlic, carrots, peas, spinach, beetroot and other leafy vegetables. Sweetcorn and beans can be started in modules within the greenhouse or on a warm windowsill. Lettuce is best grown under cloches as it needs some protection against cold nights. Sorrel is a lovely hardy plant worth growing in a corner of the vegetable patch as it provides a good supply of fresh leaves throughout the spring. The tangy lemon taste adds a nice touch to salads. Once established, it will grow quickly and provide a long leaf supply. Remove the flower spikes as they begin to form to prolong the fresh leaf production.
Longer days, rising temperatures combined with April showers mean that plants are growing fast. The pretty shades of spring flowers are bringing colour and life back into the garden – but it does also herald lots of work for gardeners.
It is not just the flowers and plants that grow quickly – so do the weeds. Regular hoeing across any exposed areas of soil is essential. Thistles, nettles and other weeds are easiest to remove when they are just seedlings. Hoeing provides the quickest way of keeping them under control.
Leave daffodils and other bulbs to die back naturally after flowering. They need the goodness from the leaves to restore strength to the bulbs ready for flowering next year. Perennials such as geraniums will quickly hide the dying leaves from sight.
Large clumps of perennials can be divided this month and replanted. This will not only improve vigour but create additional plants for your garden. Primroses can be divided after they have finished flowering. Always water in the new plants after planting, and keep watch on them during any dry spells.
Summer flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli can be planted into beds, borders or containers this month as can young perennial plants. Hardy annuals such as poppies and cornflowers can be sown directly into the soil where they are to grow over the summer.
Keep watch on climbing plants such as roses, honeysuckle and clematis and be prepared to tie in new stems as they appear. Growth can be quicker than you expect!
Check tree ties to make sure that they are not cutting into the trunks. If they appear to be too tight, loosen them slightly.
In the vegetable garden, continue planting out young plants but be prepared to cover with fleece on cooler nights. It is also possible to sow directly into the soil now, so it is a good time to sow parsnips, cabbages and radishes. As April comes towards its end, the first asparagus spears can be seen. Cut then when they are about 18cm tall and use quickly. Thin carrot seedlings to ensure larger roots, but do so in the evenings when there are fewer carrot flies about.
Don’t forget to mulch fruit trees, and around strawberry plants. This will help keep in moisture over the summer period. Early blooms on strawberry plants should be protected with fleeces or cloches on cold nights, otherwise the fruits will not develop.